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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  May 26, 2011 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT

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they took her into captivity, pulled her hair out by the roots and ran through the streets of the city holding her hair up in their hands. they are murdering everyone who is a friend of that administration. well, i have one plea right now. there are a lot of options on what they could do. they could murder the president and the first lady. they're considering that now. they are trying to consider some way to make it look like suicide. i don't know what they're doing. the state department doesn't know what they are doing. unfortunately, the state department doesn't even care what they are doing. one of the optioning would be to allow the president and the first lady and some who are close to go to another country in sub-sahara africa and be able to stay in that country. we have already located host countries to allow this to take place. so i'm just making an appeal right now -- i can't get the secretary of state to talk to me about it. i can't get anyone else -- well, just a handful of people, but we need to do something and do
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something now today. if we wait until after this recess, i would almost say the blood will be on the hands of the state department because we can do something about it now. all we have to do is encourage the new illegitimately elected president of cote d' ivoire,al a sane quattara. i think that would be a smart thing politically for him to do. we all know what martyrs are. we know what would happen. this is a final appeal to anyone who is sensitive to the torturing and the raping and the murdering that's going on today to join me in encouraging the state department, the united nations in france and alassane quattara to turn over president and mrs. gbagbo to the host country for their asylum. with that, i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from florida is recognized. mr. nelson: mr. president, i have ten unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of both the majority and the minority leaders, so i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. so ordered. mr. nelson: mr. president, mr. president, you've heard the phrase -- madam president, madam
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president, you've heard the phrase drill, baby, drill. well, it's interesting, that seems to be the pro-oil company folks that think that all of our answers are having to do with drilling. well, lo and behold, you know what, madam president? we have actually increased our domestic production, and i quote from a reuters story on may 25, "crude oil production, especially in the deep waters of the gulf of mexico, increased by 334,000 barrels per day between 2005-2010. which also cut into foreign oil
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imports of crude and petroleum products accounted for 49.3% of the u.s. oil demand last year, down from the high of 60.3% in 2005. it also marked the first time since 1997 that america's foreign oil addiction fell under the 50% threshold. now, that's worth noting. that's really something, because the trend is reversing. maybe that it's we're getting more energy conscious. maybe it's that we're spending less gasoline in our vehicles because we're getting higher miles per gallon standards maybe
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we're remembering to turn off the lights when we leave the room. maybe we're being a lot more sensitive to how vulnerable we are when we depend, as we have in the past, upwards of 60% and 70% of our daily consumption coming from foreign shores, places like nigeria and the persian gulf and venezuela and now i have just named three very unstable parts of the world and at any moment that production could be cut off. and so maybe america has to think lo and behold, we have to
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be concerned about our energy sources and don't depend so much on foreign production. but the question raised by the mantra, "drill, baby, drill" is not the answer. the question raised by "drill, baby, drill" implies that if you just continue to drill in places where we can drill domestically, that that's going to solve our problem. that ignores the fact that to take an oil field and get it into production is usually about ten years. that doesn't solve our problem now as we are facing these high gas prices. and that's what i want to talk about is the high gas prices. that doesn't mean we ought to drill where we should. and, madam president, a lot of people do not know that of the
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37 million achers that are leased in the gulf of mexico, only 7 -- 37 million acres that are leased in the gulf mexico, only 7 million of the 37 are drilled. there are 37 million acres leased in the gulf of mexico but only 7 million of those 3 37 million acres are drilled. so let's do, let's "drill, baby, drill," let's drill on all those leases, those 30 million acres in the gulf and elsewhere that are existing leases that haven't been drilled. so but you know, it's not this world oil market that the united states consumption is causing these gas prices to go up. there are other factors.
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and that's what i want to talk about. now, it's true that there are new demands on oil consumption from burgeoning countries like china and india and that causes more oil to be consumed from the world marketplace. remember what i just cited, that the u.s. is lowering its consumption of the imported oil. so that's clearly not a factor that is affecting the price of oil worldwide or the price at the pump that we pay which is the refined gasoline. nope. there's another reason and that reason happens to be that there are speculators out there
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running around running the price up on commodities exchanges for oil futures contracts and those prices run up until they're ready to dump them and suddenly they go down. now, i want to call to the attention of the senate, this is a "new york times" story from may 24, a couple days ago, entitled "u.s. suit sees manipulation of oil trades." the suit says that in early 2008 they tried to hoard nearly two-thirds of the available supply of the crucial american market for crude oil and then abruptly dumped it and improperly pocketed $50 million.
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federal commodities regulators filed a civil lawsuit against two obscure traders in australia and california and three american and international fir firms. and this was in the context three years ago, in 2008, when oil prices had surged past $100 a barrel, there were those suspicions then that traders had manipulated the market and that ultimately has led to a number of commentary and investigatio investigations. well, the regulators at the commodities futures trading commission have now filed this suit and they're looking into the fraud being utilized in
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these oil and gas markets, particularly the commodities futures markets. in the past months, i have come to this floor several times to discuss the net result of all of this, which is what we pay at the pump, and how it directly links to these oil speculators and the game they play in running up the price of oil. using this data from the commodity futures trading commission and price data from the energy information administration, we have shown on this floor in speech after speech until i'm blue in the face, we have demonstrated the direct link between the rising
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level of speculators and their speculation in our energy markets and the skyrocketing oil and gas prices. and so when the top executives of the five largest oil companies in the u.s. testified a week ago in our senate finance committee, i asked them on what role speculation played in the oil markets. and i asked them, please, explain why gas prices are remaining so high when oil prices had begun to fall. well, you should have heard the mumbling around. the truth is that speculators, whether they are active traders or passive investors, have
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hijacked our oil markets -- and they've done this in recent years -- and the american people are the ones that are suffering the consequences because the price of that gas goes up when we pump it into our cars. oil prices are set in futures markets, such as those regulated by the commodity futures trading commission. future contracts -- and that is you buy -- you buy a contract of oil at a specified price to be delivered at a future date. those futures contracts allow oil producers to lock in prices on their future output. and those contracts also allow large consumers of fuel, like airlines, to lock in a price as
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a hedge against inflation and that future price swinging way up. well, the futures markets were intended to bring actual producers and real consumers of oil together, and in doing so, the supply would match the demand. speculators then were allowed to play a limited role to ensure that there was sufficient liquid knit the market, but then here -- liquidity in the market, but then here's what happened. and this is what happened back in 2008 when the price of gas went so high. speculators constitute now anywhere from two-thirds to 80% of the market. they're no longer a bit player. they are the main player, and
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this is what we need to end. in last year's financial reform bill, we directed the commodity futures trading commission to set hard limits on the speculative positions. we gave them a deadline of last january, the 21st. now we're here months past the deadline but the cftc has not yet finalized a rule. now, why should they do this? well, it's -- if you're a legitimate user of oil, say an airline, you have every reason to want to hedge against the price of that oil going way up so you buy a contract to -- for delivery of oil at a specified price at a future date. but if you are a speculator who
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buying and selling oil futures contracts, having no intention to use the oil, having only to put as a down payment a bare percentage of the total contract price, you can manipulate that price upwards by buying and selling those contracts. this is exactly what happened back in 2008. it's what's happening again as we've seen the price of a barrel of oil go up and up. now, we passed the law last ye year. the commission has the authori authority. we shouldn't have to pass another law that requires them
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to do it, but, madam president, if the cftc cannot get the job done, then we're going to have to. and that's bottom line. the american people are outrag outraged. here america is lowering its consumption of oil. here america is lowering its imports of oil. here we are getting more energy conscious and yet the price of gas keeps going up. it's time to put an end to this. madam president, i yield the floor. and i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.he
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quorum call be suspended and that i be recognized. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: in a few minutes, my colleague from maryland, senator cardin, will be introducing a bill which i am a cosponsor, along with a large bipartisan group of our
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colleagues, will be introducing. and i want to emphasize at the outset that some may characterize this legislation as antirussian. in fact, i believe it is pro-russian. it's pro the people of russia. it's pro the people that stand up for human rights and democracy in that country which unfortunately seems to be sadly deprived of. this legislation, as my colleague and friend, senator cardin, will describe, requires the secretary of state, in consultation with the secretary of treasury to publish a list of each person that our government has reason to believe was responsible for the detention, abuse or death of sergei magnitski, participated in efforts to conceal the legal liability for these crimes, committed those acts of fraud that magnitski uncovered, is
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responsible for extra judicial killings, torture or other gross violations of human rights committed against individuals seeking to expose illegal activities in russia or exercise other universally recognized human rights. second, the individuals on that list would become the target of an array of penalties. among them, ineligibility to receive a visa to travel. they'd have their current visas revoked, their assets would be frozen that are under u.s. jurisdiction, and u.s. financial institutions would be required to audit themselves to ensure that none of these individuals are able to bank access funds and move money in the u.s. financial system. i guess the first question that many people will be is, who was sergei magnitski, who was this individual that has aroused such
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outrage and anger throughout the world? he was a tax attorney. he was a tax attorney working for an international company called hermitage capital that had invested in russia. he didn't spend his life as a human rights activist or an outspoken credit i can of the russian government. he was -- critic of the russian government. he was an ordinary man but he became an extraordinary champion of justice, fairness, and the rule of law in russia, where those principles, frankly, have lost meaning. what sergei magnitski did was he uncovered a collection of government -- russian government officials and criminals associated -- that were associated with the russian government officials colluded to defraud the russian state of $230 million. the russian government, in turn, blamed the crime on heritage capital and threw magnitski in prison in 2008.
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magnitski was detained for 11 months without trial. russian officials, especially from the interior ministry, pressured magnitski to deny what he had uncovered, to lie and recant. he refused. he was sickened by what his government had done and he refused to surrender principle to brut power. as a result, he was transferred to increasingly more severe and more horrific prison conditions. he was forced to eat unclean food and water. he was denied basic medical care as his health worsened. in fact, he was placed in an even worse conditions until, on november 16, 2009, having served 358 days in prison, sergei magnitsky died. he was 37 years old. sergei magnitsky's torture and murder, let's call it what it really was, an extreme example of a problem that is unfortunately all too common and widespread in russia today. the flagrant violations of the rule of law and basic human
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rights committed by the russian government itself, along with its allies. i note the presence of my colleague and lead sponsor of this important legislation, and i also hope that in his remarks, that perhaps my friend from maryland would mention the latest in the last few days was the affirmation of the incredible sentence on mr. mikhail kartokovsky and his associate, which is in many ways tantamount to a death sentence. again, one of these blatant abuses of justice and an example of the corruption that exists at the highest level of government. i want to say again that i appreciate my colleague from maryland's advocacy and steadfast efforts on behalf of human rights in russia, belarus and other countries, and it's been a great honor to work with him and for him in bringing this
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important resolution to the floor of the senate. madam president, i ask unanimous consent that at the appropriate time, the senator from maryland and i be allowed to engage in a colloquy. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: will the senator yield? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: first, madam president, if i might, i ask unanimous consent that floor privileges be temporarily granted to kyl parker, a staff member of the commission on security and cooperation in europe, which i cochair during the pendency of this colloquy which i am engaging in with senator mccain. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: and let me just thank senator mccain, not just for taking this time here for this colloquy concerning mr. mr. magnitsky but for his long-standing commitment to justice issues, human rights issues and the values that the united states represents internationally. we've had a long, proud, bipartisan and, most importantly, successful record
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of promoting basic american values, such as democratic governance and the rule of law around the world. engaging the countries of the eastern block on matters such as respect for human rights was critical to winning the cold w war. we will never know how many lives were improved and even saved due to the instruments such as the helsinki final act and the jackson-vanik amendment. these measures defined an era of human rights activism that ultimately pried open the iron curtain and brought down the wall. thankfully, the cold war is over and we have a stronger relationship, both with the governmental and societal levels with the countries in eastern europe. but, sadly, internationally recognized rights and freedoms continue to be trampled and in many cases with absolute impunity. with the possibility of russia's succession to the world trade organization and the presidents of the united states and russia
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meeting in france, ours is a timely discussion. just last week, i joined my distinguished colleague, the senator from arizona, and 14 other senators from both parties to introduce the sergei magnitsky rule of law accountability act, a broad bill to address what the respected watchdog "transparency international" systematically dubbed a corrupt country, and to delegate consequences for those who are currently getting away with murder. mr. president -- madam president, actions always speak louder than words. the diplomatic manner of dealing with human rights abuses has frequently been so condemned by the abuser, on whic often publih the happy to these statements will be all they need -- hope that these statements will be all they need to do. they say oh, yes, we're against these human rights violations, we're for the rule of law, we're for people being able to come forward and tell us about problems and be able to correct
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things. they condemn the abusers but they take no action. they think that their words will be enough. well, we know differently. we know what's happening today in russia. we know the tragedies of sergei magnitsky was not an isolated episode. this is not the only time this has happened. my colleague from arizona mentioned the khodorkovsky case. mr. khodorkovsky today is in prison with even a longer sentence. why? because he the courage to stand up and say that there's a corrupt system in russia and something should be done about it. that's why necessities prison. -- that's why he's in prison and that is wrong. so it's time that we do something about this, that we make it clear that action is needed. for too long, the leaders in russia have said we're going to investigate what happened to sergei magnitsky, we think it was terrible that he died in prison without getting adequate
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medical care. and senator mccain pointed out, here's a person whose only crime was to bring to the proper attention of officials corruption, public corruption within russia. as a result of his whistle-blowing, he was arrested and thrown in jail and died in jail. he was tortured. and that cannot be allowed to just be said oh, that's terrible. the people who are responsible, we know who they were. we know who they were. in some cases, they've been promoted in their public positions. well, it's time for us to take action and that's why we have introduced this legislation. while this bill goes far beyond the tragic experiences of sergei magnitsky, it does bear his name. so let me just refresh everyone with some of the circumstances concerning his death.
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and i -- i mentioned this because some people might say, you know, why are we talking about one person? let's talk about, you know, the isolated examples. but as the soviet dictator, joseph stalin, said, "one death is a tragedy. one million is statistics." i rarely agree with dictator stalin, but you've got to put a face on the issue. you've got to -- you've got to -- people have to understand that these are real people and real lives that have been ruined forever as a result of the abuses within russia. sergei was a skilled tax lawyer who was well-known in moscow among many western companies, large and small. in fact, he even did some accounting for the national conference on soviet jury. working at the american law firm of farstung and duncan, sergei uncovered the largest known tax fraud in modern russian history and blew the whistle on the swindling of his fellow citizens by corrupt officials. and for that he was promptly
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arrested by his subordinates, of those he implicated in the crime. he was held in detention for nearly a year without trial or visits from family and under torturous conditions. he developed severe medical complications which went deliberately untreated and died on november 16, 2009, alone in an isolation cell while prison doctors waited outside his door. sergei was 37 years old. left behind a wife, two sons, a dependent mother and so many friends. shortly after his death, phillip pann, "the washington post" wrote -- and i quote -- "magnitsky's complaints made public by his attorneys as he composed them went unanswered while he lived. but in a nation where millions perished in the soviet gulags, the words of the 37-year-old tax lawyer struck a nerve after he
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died. his descriptions of the squalid conditions he endured have been splashed on the front pages of newspapers and discussed on radio and television across the country. part of an outcry even his supporters never expected." i think senator mccain and i would agree, you know, there's this thirst for democracy around the world. people in russia want more. they want freedom. they want accountability. they want honest government officials. and they're outraged by what happened to sergei magnitsky. i might just point out, just this past week i met with a leader from the russian business community who came here and traveled at some risk, i might say, just visiting me was a risk. you know, we've had people from russia who are -- who are being questioned because they come and talk to us. but he said to me that what happened here needs to be answered by the russian authorities. and he understands why we have
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this legislation here. a year his death and with no -- no one held accountable of those implicated and some even promoted and decorated, the economist -- "the economist" noted -- and i quote again -- "at the time, few people outside a few russian investors and a few human rights activists have heard of mr. magnitsky. a year later, his death has become a symbol of the mind-boggling corruption and injustice perpetrated by the russian system and the inability of the kremlin to change it. regrettably, we know that sergei's case, egregious as it is, is not isolated. human rights abuses continued unpunished and often unknown across russia today." to make this point more clear, let me look at another example far outside the financial districts of moscow in st. petersburg in the north caulk cs
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and in the southern region where chechen leader ranzan is it kandorus condones overseas massive violations of human rights, including violations of religious rights and violations of women. it also violates international humanitarian laws. as of this airng the european court -- april, the european court on human rights has ruled against russia on 186 cases concerning chechnya. mostly involving civilians. so, madam president, sergei magnitsky's case is not an isolated case of abuse by the russian authorities. there has been a systemic effort made to deny people their basic human rights, including one individual, natalia estimova who personally visited my office at the helsinki commission.
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she has been -- she was accused of being involved in murders of political opponents and has been abused in russia. so it's time for russia to take action, but we cannot wait. we need to take action. mr. mccain: will the gentleman yield? mr. cardin: i yield back to my colleague. mr. mccain: first, again, thank you, i say to my colleague from maryland, for a very eloquent and, i think, very strong statement which i can add very little to. but isn't it true, i would ask my friend, that this magnitsky case and khodorkovsky, which i'd like for us to talk a little bit more about, is not an isolated incident? in other words, this is the face of the problem in russia today. as you mentioned, in its annual index of perceptions of corruption, transparency international ranked russia 154th out of 178 countries.
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perceived as more corrupt than pakistan, yemen and zimbabwe. the world bank considers 122 countries to be better places to do business than russia. one of these countries is georgia, which the world bank ranks as the 12th best country to do business. in other words, what happened in the -- isn't it true that in the magnitsky case, it's what's been taking place all across russia, including this incredible story of khodorkovsky, who was one of the wealthiest men in russia, one of the wealthiest oligarchs who rebelled against this corruption because he saw the long-term consequences of his -- of this kind of corruption and was brought to trial, convicted. then when his sentence was completed, they charged him again. and talk about a corrupt system. isn't it true that vladimir
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putin said he should -- quote - "sit in jail." and we now know that the whole trial was rigged, was revealed by people who were part of the whole trial? isn't it true, i would ask my friend from maryland, that what we're talking about here is one human tragedy, but it's a tragedy that's unfolding throughout russia that we don't really have any knowledge of, and if we allow this kind of abuse to go on unresponded, then obviously we're abrogating our responsibilities to the world. is that -- mr. cardin: senator mccain, you're absolutely right. this is not an isolated -- magnitsky is not an isolated case of a lawyer doing his job on behalf of a client being imprisoned, tortured and killed by the authorities and then the authorities promoted and not held accountable. we have a lot of examples of
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lawyers trying to do their jobs and being arrested and intimidated and their rights violated. but in mr. khodorkovsky's case, you have a business leader who was treated the same way just because he was a successful business leader, and even worse, he happened to be an opponent of the power in being. so we're now seeing in russia where they want to quell opposition by arresting people who are just speaking their minds, doing their business legally, putting them in prison, trying them -- and in the khodorkovsky case, actually increasing their sentences. the more they speak out against the regime. that's how totalitarian they want to be and how oppressive they are to human rights. but i could go further. if you're a journalist in russia and you try to do any form of independent journalist, you're in danger of being beaten, being
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imprisoned, being murdered. it's very intimidating. and the list goes on and on and on. mr. mccain: so could i ask my colleague, what implications, if any, does the senator from maryland feel it should have on the russian entry into the world trade world trade organization? mr. cardin: i just came from the senate finance committee hearing and we're talking about a free trade agreement, and i'm for free trade agreements. i think it makes sense. when a country wants to do trade with the united states, they all of a sudden understand that they have got to look at their human rights issues. i think all of us would like to see russia a part of the international trade community. i'd like to see russia, which is already members of a lot of international organizations, live up to their commitments that they have made in joining these international organizations. but it's clear to me that russia needs to reform. if we're going to have business leaders traveling to russia in
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order to do business, i want to make sure they are safe in russia. i want to make sure that they are going to get the protection of the rule of law in russia. i want to make sure that there is basic rights, that the business people in russia and the united states can depend upon. so yes, i understand that russia would like to get into the w.t.o., and we have, of course, the jackson-vanik law that still applies because of their practical contingencies of immigration, particularly soviet jews. i understand the origin of that law and i understand what needs to change in order for russia to be able to join the world trade organization. but i tell you this: the best thing that russia can do in order to be able to enter the international trade regime is to clean up their abuses in their own country, to make it clear that they respect the rule of law, that business people will be protected under the rule of law and certainly not imprisoned and tortured, as
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mr. khodorkovsky has been. we don't want to see that type of conduct. if russia would do that, if they would reform their systems, then i think we would be a long way towards that type of integration into trade. mr. mccain: i thank my colleague from maryland for an eloquent statement about the situation as regards russia, and i thank him, and i can assure my colleague from maryland that as we speak, this will provide -- and this legislation which he has introduced will provide some encouragement to people who in russia now in some cases have lost almost all hope because of the corruption of the judicial system as well as other aspects of the russian nation. and we all know that no democracy can function without the rule of law, and if there is
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ever an example of -- two examples of the corruption of the rule of law, it is the case, the tragedy of sergei magnitsky and of course mr. khodorkovsky who still languishes in prison, who in his words believes he has, by the extension of his prison sentence, may have been given a death sentence. so i thank my colleague from maryland. mr. cardin: would my colleague yield just for one final comment? i think you're right on target as to what you have said, and i really appreciate you bringing this to the attention of our colleagues in the senate. i want to respond to one other point because i'm sure you have heard this, that russian officials say why are we dealing with the internal affairs of -- of another country? i just want to remind my -- the people of russia, i want to remind my colleagues here that russia has signed on to the
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helsinki final act. they did that in 1975. and they have agreed to the consensus document that was issued to moscow in 1991, and reaffirmed just last year with the heads of state meeting in kazkstan. and i'm going to quote from that document just this past december -- quote -- "the participating states -- which russia is a participating state -- emphasize that issues relating to human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law are international concerns, as respect for these rights and freedoms constitute one of the foundations of international order. they are categorically and irrevokably declare that the commitments undertaken in the field of the human dimension of the csce are matters of direct and legitimate concern to all participating states." the united states is a
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participating state." and do not belong exclusively to the internal affairs of the state concern." mr. mccain: the government of russia. mr. cardin: that was a statement made by the 56 states of the osce at a meeting of the heads of state, heads of state, which happens about every ten years. it just happened to have happened last year. russia participated in drafting this statement. russia was there, signed onto it, said we agree on this. it's a reaffirmation as to what they signed onto in 1975 in helsinki, that we acknowledge that it's of international interest and we have an obligation and right to question when a member state violates those basic human dimension requirements. russia clearly has done that. we have not only the right but the obligation to raise that. and i just really wanted to underscore that to my
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colleagues. so, senator mccain, your -- your comments on the floor are so much on point, i think people understand it. they understand the basic human aspect to this. sometimes they ask, well, why should america be concerned? do we have a legitimate right to question this? russia signed a document that gives us the basic right to challenge this. so we're exercising the right that we have under law. i thank my colleague for yielding. mr. mccain: i thank the senator from maryland, and i hope that we would get very rapidly another 98 cosponsors. i thank my friend. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: i would request 9 u.s.s. -- the suspension of a quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: we are engaged in a very important debate over our budget the last few days. this debate will continue over the next several days and probably the next few months. lake past debates, the heart of it are important programs for
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middle-income americans, like medicare, medicaid, social security. in some quarters, they are under attack. this doesn't have to be the case. in the 1990's, democratic majorities in the house and the senate with a democratic president were able to deal with this issue of deficit while preserving these programs and strengthening indeed in many cases these programs. we were able to also provide the kind of economic growth that generated job creation. not just increased g.d.p. or increased profits on wall street but jobs on main street. much of these efforts were, frankly, undone beginning in 2000 with tax cuts that did not, as advertised, produce the kind of private employment growth that were necessary for our economy, that shifted the burden to middle-income taxpayers while giving the wealthiest americans
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extraordinary relief, and unfunded entitlement programs like medicare part-d and two major conflicts, none of which were paid for. so now we once again face a situation where we have significant deficit and we need to address it. president obama has begun that process, he has begun it i think with the same commitment to maintaining medicare, medicaid and social security, not without reforms and strengthening but making sure that middle-income americans and all americans can have access to these vital programs. now, we have taken significant steps for the long run to reform our health care system with the affordable care act. we hope that -- at least i hope that that act is implemented
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efficiently and effectively so that we can begin to realize long-term savings, to bend the proverbial cost increase curve of our health programs, not just our federal health care programs but our health care costs across the board that are borne by private insurers as well as public programs. in fact, ironically, it -- it seems to me that one of the major accelerators of the medicare program is the fact that so many americans, about 40 million, don't have access to consistent quality health care now, and yet when they turn 65, they have by right access to a panoply of services. i've had discussions with doctors and they will tell me, they say several times a day there are new medicare patients, i wish i saw you ten years ago because i don't have to apply the expensive diagnostic and
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remedial techniques. i could have done something much easier, much less cols if -- costly if you had coverage and access. so that's one of the long-term efforts we are underway but we have to do a lot, lot more to go ahead and to deal with the issues before us. now, we have seen republican budget proposal proposals but, i don't think -- frankly, the middle class here in the united states nor do they provide the kind of sensible investment that will lead to job increases and provide the opportunities that are necessary for the succeeding generations of americans. they are, i think, more dedicated to an i'd logical commitment to simple -- ideological commitment to simply reduce taxes, and that's something that has to be tested
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and should be tested in the history of the last several years. that was the same argument that was made in 2001, that such tax cuts would generate huge growth in private employment, huge -- unleash huge economic forces here in the united states, and, frankly, over the last ten yea years, that has not been the case. so i think we have to be sensible. i think we have to address the tax reform and tax reduction to middle-income americans, not continually to favor the richest americans when you come to tax proposals. and so much of what the republican budget seemed to do is continue what they started in 2001. huge, huge relief for the wealthiest americans but increasingly putting the burden on middle americans. in fact, it's been estimated that individuals under the republican budget making over a million dollars will receive an average tax cut of $125,000 a year. and that's a huge, huge cut
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relative to whatever working middle-income american might receive. now, one of the other aspects of this budget is the impact that it would have on medicare. medicare is central to every family in this country. in fact, look around at not just someone who's earning a wage hour by hour. look at the small business person, the man or woman. their retirement plan rests on the assumption that they will have access to medicare. the republican proposal, as i understand it, essentially ends that for individuals who are about $52 years old or younger. well, in the next 10-plus years or so, they're going to come up with a lot of money to pay for the medicare they assume they
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would have received automatic when they retired at 65. and that's not just, again, the wage earner, the hourly worker who goes in there. that's the small business person whose post-retirement plan rests fundamentally on medicare and then being able to buy a supplemental health care plan to that. so these are fundamental, fundamental and, in fact, earth-shattering proposals, in my view. currently, seniors on traditional medicare pay approximately $7,800 annually in premiums. they're charged a limited amount for a brief hospital stay, have a reasonable deductible for every reasonable treatment and pay coservices for treatments and prescription drugs. and they're even able to buy, as i alluded to, these medigap plans so they can supplement what medicare provides with additional resources. and these supplemental plans are very affordable. on average, medicare then spends about $11,760 on every senior and that's just an average
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number, obviously. but this would all change and it would inject a huge amount of uncertainty if the budget, as proposed by the republicans, as still being debated by the republicans, is still being supported in my cases by the republicans, is in any way enacted. beginning in 2022 of the proposal, if the republican budget were enacted, would be that every senior who becomes eligible for what we now call medicare would be given $8,000 to address all the health care needs and then sent to the marketplace to buy health care insurance. now, i guess i've reached the point in my life where i can reflect and remember that as a youngster in the 1950's and certainly before 1965, there was in every one -- practically every one of my friend's homes a grandparent that was there
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because they didn't have access to medicare or medicaid. they were in a hospital bed in the living room nor some other room. they were being cared for by t the -- typically the mother, who was also trying to care for youngsters, like myself and my contemporaries. and the reason was, regardless of how much money you had, is that at some point, insurance companies will not sell you insurance. you're old, you've had health experiences prior to that. you're a bad risk and they're not in the business of insuring bad risks. that was as much as anything the general sid of medicare, -- anything the genesis of medicare, the recognition that the private market would not, regardless of your ability to pay, provide adequate coverage. and i think we've forgotten that. when the congressional budget office, a nonpartisan organization, looked at the proposal, they essentially concluded that with this $8,000
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transfer to a senior in lieu of trcial medicare, that the -- traditional medicare, that the senior would be on the hook for an additional $6,500 in additional health care costs. in fact, it would likely result in some seniors not even getting health insurance at all. not being able to afford it or at some point, particularly as they aged, getting to the point where no one would write them health care insurance because of their obvious health risks that they -- that they were. so this is a plan that i don't think comports with the reality of americans that have already planned. and it's not just those who are over 52 but most americans to have access to medicare and also to the reality that what is proposed, an $8,000 transfer payment to an insurance company, would be inadequate to provide
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the kind of minimum coverage that -- that we should be providing to our seniors. now, we've had examples before where particularly republicans proposed they have a new novel way to provide private health care insurance in lieu of traditional medicare, where medicare advantage was established -- traditional medicare. when medicare advantage was established in 2003, seniors had the option of rolling in private health insurance plans that were argued by the advocates as being cost-effective, would put -- reduce costs, would put pressure on that public health care plan known as medicare. 60,000 seniors in my state of rhode island enrolled. private medicare advantage plans sell consumers on additional benefits and smaller copays. they went out, very selectively, i suspect, recruiting seniors to come, i think recruiting in a way that they hope attracted the healthiest seniors, not the sickest seniors, because that
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would lower their costs, and -- but, however, in reality, most of these plans tended to cost more than traditional medicare. as the smaller co-pays were largely offset by higher monthly premiums. and then essentially we were called upon repeatedly to provide more resources to a medicare advantage plan that was advertised initially as costing the government less. and i think we'll see that again as we go forward. so there are those that are still seriously proposing this republican approach to medicare. i think it would be a mistake. i think it would reduce access to health care coverage for seniors. i don't think the private market will jump up with $8,000. i don't think you'll see that congresses in the future will escalate the costs of these vouchers or transfers to private
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insurance companies in any way that would be commensurate to the real costs it seems they'll face. and so as a result, i think this proposal will do serious harm to health care and to -- particularly to the middle-income americans who, regardless of whether you're running a small business or working for an hourly wage, you will now face the prospect of the great uncertainty, the great unknown of no adequate health care coverage when you reach 65. we will go back in time to the period of my youth wherein, frankly, seniors did not have the kind of health care coverage they have today and i believe the kind of health care coverage that they deserve. with respect to medicaid, there are also proposals there, and
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the thought is that medicaid is just a program for sort of poor americans, but, frankly, if you look at the statistics, there are 26,000 seniors in my state that are on medicaid because -- principally because of nursing home care. and we have to ask ourselves if these plans to provide block grants to states are enacted under the republican proposal, whether those seniors still can maintain themselves in these nursing facilities, whether the costs will be so great on the states that they'll be unable to keep up the level of effort, the level of support they are today. what seems to be inherent in all these proposals is not saving but shifting costs, not reforming the system to be more efficient and more effective but simply shifting the cost on to seniors, shifting the cost on to
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particularly middle-income americans. and so, mr. president, i would urge, as we review these proposals, that we would not accept as we've been asked to the kind of proposals that we've seen in republican budgets with respect to medicare and medicaid and many other things. and with that, mr. president, i would conclude my remarks and i would yield the floor. mr. coats: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, i want to thank the senator from north dakota for allowing me to go first. i will be relatively brief.
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i've spoken on the floor on a number of occasions regarding the -- my frustration about the senate not spending enough time debating what i think is the key essential issue and the challenge facing us -- probably this is greater than any other challenge facing this body in a long, long time. my frustration only grew yesterday as we voted down four budget proposals. you know, it's been 757 days since we have passed a budget in this body and so far no budget has been proposed this year out of the budget committee for us to examine and to look at. the president offered up a budget earlier this year that
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would have spent more, taxed more. it was voted down last night in what i think probably was a historic vote. i didn't go back and check the records, but i'm not aware of any budget that's ever been presented by the executive branch to the congress for approval that has not received at least some votes. the vote last evening was 97-0 against the president's budget. now, it's -- it's almost unthinkable that an executive, a president, the executive branch would send a budget to the floor to be debated and voted on and not achieve one vote. i think what it tells us is obviously that budget was not designed to gain any kind of bipartisan support, obviously, but it didn't even obtain any partisan support. so it was not taken seriously at
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a time when we need to have in front of us a serious budget to debate and vote on. as i said, 757 days without a budget before us. you cannot run a company, you cannot run a family, you can't run anything unless you know how many money's going to come in or approximate that and how you're going to budget against it so that you don't continue to go into hock and into debt. but that's the place where we were and are today. now, republicans did come forward with three proposals. unfortunately, all of those were voted down also. you can argue that none of those three was sufficient to garner some support. all three received a significant level of support, particularly two of them, and yet not enough to pass this body. and so while the house has passed a budget and put before
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us a budget which we did did -- did vote on yesterday but unfortunately fell short, these are the only proposals which we have had in front of us in order to debate and vote on and set the structure for how we're going to spend the taxpayers' money. so here we are now approaching the month of june, five months into the current calendar year, and nine months into the fiscal year, and we still don't have a handle on how we're going to spend the taxpayers' money, what restrictions and restraints we're going to put on that and how we might be able to go about and live within our means. this is the debate of this congress that should be undertaken and has not been undertaken. many of us have come to the floor in situations like this where we have asked for some time to speak, but the issue itself has not been put before us. we know there are negotiations going on relative to how we put
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a plan in place that will help us get to the point where we can be -- gain credibility in terms of our fiscal situation, but we're a long way from that. so i am standing here once again to try to urge my colleagues to work together to try to achieve a result or at least a product on which we can have serious debate and determine the future of how we're going to spend the money that the taxpayers provide for us and do it in a responsible way. the most important factor that we have to address is the need -- in my opinion, is the need to rein in washington's excessive spending. the bottom line is government spending is out of control. the public understands this, and i think the response in 2010 to all of those of us that were running and all the elections across the country sent an
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unmistakable, long, loud, easily understood signal. we have too much government that we can't afford the government that we have and we're adding too much government, that continues to push us deeper and deeper into debt. nearly $1.4 trillion of our spending requires us to borrow money so that we have that money and then it puts us in a debt obligation, and clearly we need to rein in our spending. now, part of all this is -- is discretionary spending, but it's only a fraction of what we have. it is something that we should debate, it's something that is part of the responsibility of the united states congress and the senate, but we're talking now about addressing a deficit of over $14 trillion, and we need to get serious over a
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little nick here and a little nick there and spending reduction there and look at the larger picture. we're staring down down $14.3 trillion in debt. credit ratings like standard and poor have downgraded the outlook for the united states debt with a negative warning. economic growth is sputtering across the country. unemployment remains high and states are dipping deeper in the red. zeroing in on billions -- which is a lot of money, but it's only a minuscule amount of money compared to the trillions that we ought to be -- that we were saddled with of debt and that we ought to be addressing. so it's time for congress and this administration to stop the obvious -- stop ignoring the obvious. the rapid growth of mandatory spending is endangering our financial future. i point to this chart here on my left.
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it simply points out the growth, the dramatic growth that has occurred and will continue to occur over the years in the future, and it doesn't take a mathematician -- although the math is pretty simple. when you spend $3.7 trillion a year and take in $2.2 trillion, that leaves you in a big debt hole. but it doesn't take a mathematician or anybody with any sophistication in economics to understand that if we continue on the path that we're going, we are going to continue to see this line escalate. this red here is red ink. it's net interest that we will owe. what does that mean? that means that to continue borrowing, in order to finance what we're doing, we're going to have to pay larger and larger rates of interest to the lenders because of the risk associated with our potential inability to pay back the loans that we have taken. and this flow of red ink, this
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red tide here is -- if we don't address this, it's going to make it difficult for americans to buy cars, to pay their mortgages, to buy homes, to buy groceries. the prices of products will go higher because the interest rates that we're paying are higher. we're just running ourselves into a desperate situation. i think everyone understands that. i think it's been clear to the -- made clear to the american people we don't have to spin this whole message here in order to convince the american people that we don't have a problem. we do have a problem. they understand that. that's what 2010 was all about, and they -- we continue to move forward now here in 2011 without providing any real basis of a real solution to ensure the financial world and ensure people that we're taking steps to address this.
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i've got a bunch of statistics here, mr. president, but look, if we -- i think there is a consensus, and if anybody doesn't understand this, they are not really looking at the problem. there is a consensus that we could tax americans to death. we can cut discretionary spending by massive amounts, and we won't begin to address the problem that we have unless we address and put in place the massive amount of spending that has to go to the mandatory programs. those things that we don't have control over in terms of budgeting. they simply are there, and if you're eligible, you get to draw from the program. now, all of that is fine if you have got money to do it, but we're running out of money to pay those recipients who are continuing to receive benefits from these entitlement programs,
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and unless we address those, we are not going to solve the problem. let's just take a couple of those, and let's just look at medicare. everybody says this is -- this is a politically -- a political nonstarter. if you dare talk about it or go there, you're going to get zinged in the next election. it could be characterized as taking away benefits from the elderly when the plans that have been put forward do nothing of the sort. nevertheless, it's important to understand that the dimensions of the problem that we're facing just from this one entitlement alone, over the next ten years, medicare spending just for this entitlement, this one entitlement -- not social security, not medicaid. medicare alone is expected to double during the next ten years. just a few weeks ago, the medicare trustees announced that
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the hospital trust fund would be exhausted by 2024. five years earlier than estimated in last year's report. who knows what next year's report is going to tell us? bottom line is this program is going to go broke. so failing to restructure medicare jeopardizes the medical benefits of future -- of americans, elderly americans and future elderly americans. and so rather than terminating medicare, as has been charged, which is not true, rather than destroying medicare, which has been charged but is not true, what we're trying to do is to find a way to restructure in a way that medicare will be viable, it will stay sol vent, benefits will be there for future retirees. when medicare was first enacted in 1967, the program cost cost $2.5 billion. at that time, congress predicted that the program would cost
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cost $12 billion in 1990. that wasn't the case. we underestimated, congress underestimated just a bit, by by $86 billion, which is more than just a bit. when you project it's going to be $2.5 billion, when it starts at $2.5 billion and you project it's going to be $12 billion and you end at $86 billion, you have to start asking yourself some questions. oh, maybe we got this formula wrong. maybe our assumptions didn't turn out just exactly as we thought they were going to do. today, medicare is roughly roughly $494 billion, with approximately $89.3 trillion in total unfunded liabilities. these are staggering numbers. they are numbers beyond our ability to comprehend. having said that, they are beyond our ability to deal with. there is just no possible way on earth, no matter how fast and how hard we grow, that we can
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possibly reach solvency in the medicare program in the future. why is that? because after world war ii, the soldiers came home, people had deferred having families. the so-called baby boom generation was born. and it has moved through our entire history over the last 60 years or so like a pig moves through a python. early on, there was a rush to provide housing for soldiers and their families. there was a massive infusion of money into baby cribs and the need for hospitals and doctors and nurses that would deliver children, and a few years later, all of a sudden, we had to start building a massive number of new elementary schools. as this baby boom has moved through their life span, we have seen dramatic impacts on the economy, many of them positive,
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but the colleges that had to be expanded and built and universities and training facilities, the education that had to be provided, the employment that needed to be provided, all of this has had a dramatic impact on our economy. we have known for decades that eventually this pig moving through the python was going to reach the point of retirement, and when it reached the point of retirement, it was going to have an enormous impact on our finances. but instead of anticipating this coming and putting in place structural plans that would accommodate the needs, the legitimate needs of those for retirement income and benefits, we have instead ignored this reality, we have pushed it down the road. nobody wanted to touch it. election after election after election, it was said you better postpone that for the next election because it's just too hot to deal with now. well, it's all coming undone.
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we're at the point almost of no return. and so the proposals that have been put forward, you may not agree with every portion of it, i don't agree with every portion of these proposals, but the house brought to us a budget plan that was -- you have to give paul ryan a great deal of credit for the extraordinary amount of effort and work he put into it. maybe you don't like all of it, but at least it's a plan to debate, modify, adjust, but something that gives us an opportunity to start down the path of paying off our debt, of maintaining solvency for the medicare program and other entitlement programs, and that's what we ought to be debating instead of simply saying we're into another new cycle of gotcha , you've touched the third rail, you've made the decision to put medicare in play and we're going to take it to the public and tell them you're going to take away their health care benefits when they retire. it's just the opposite is true.
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we're trying to save those health care benefits for those who are retiring. we're trying to look at ways that we can structure the program so that it doesn't not only break medicare but break our entire economy. today the average person is living into their 70's and the average woman is living into their 80's and even 90's, and as a result, more elderly americans are on medicare than originally anticipated. the federal government can no longer continue with business as usual. it's time for some honesty with the american people. washington is promising to deliver benefits it can't afford. we can no longer nickel and dime doctors and hospitals and force them to pay for the care washington has promised elderly americans. more and more doctors are having to turn away medicare patients. the american medical association revealed that 17% of more than 9,000 doctors surveyed are forced to limit the number of
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medicare patients they accept, and among primary care physicians, this rate is 31%. why? because we can't reimburse -- we don't have the money to reimburse them for the cost that it takes to provide that care. the american osteopathic association said that 15% of its members refuse medicare and 19% declined to accept new medicare patients. physicians and hospitals in my home state of indiana are feeling the pain from the congress inaction as well. hospitals like deconiis clinics say one-third of their patients are on medicare. when doctors are not receiving the necessary compensation for services on one-third of their patients it has a devastating impact on their businesses. if we don't reform medicare, we lose medicare. let me repeat that: if we don't take steps to reform medicare, we lose medicare. if we don't restructure the program, more patients will lose
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the care that they desperately need. mr. president, a very prominent figure, a leader of this country made this statement: almost all of the long-term deficit and debt that we face relates to the exploding costs of medicare and medicaid. almost all of it, he said. that is the single-biggest driver of our federal debt. and if we don't get control over that, we can't get control over our federal budget. that defines in a very basic statement exactly the challenge that's before us. it tells us -- it gives us the warning that we need to heed, and it should spur us into action. let me repeat that: almost all of the long-term deficit and debt that we face relates to the
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exploding costs of medicare and medicaid. almost all of it. that is the single-biggest driver of our federal debt. and if we don't get control over that, we can't get control over our federal budget. that is a statement made by president barack obama. it's not made by a republican. it's not made by an editorial piece in the "wall street journal." it's not made by a tea party leader or advocate. it's not made by any republican. it is made by our current president. our president has said we cannot sustain what we're doing, and we have to get at it or it's going to take down our whole budget. why in the world having said that -- and continuing's been true. it's -- and i think it's true. it's been backed by analysts that have looked at this whole situation, left, right, whatever. why are we here not going forward with addressing this very question?
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that's what the people sent us here to do in 2010. that's what they're asking us to do now. and yet, we're acting as if this statement by the president of the united states has nothing to do with what we need to do. that we can simply ignore this and go forward and just cut a little here and cut a little there, but we can't touch entitlements. we can't touch medicare. the papers are full today of headlines saying the new york special congressional race, that was because the people have been scared into -- they didn't say scared. that's because the people said "don't cut our medicare." what it should have said is those people who are saying don't cut our medicare, basically saying keep mine going until this thing runs out. i'm not sure i can -- you know, i'm afraid i might live too long and then i won't have benefits at the end. for sure our kids won't have it.
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for sure our grandchildren won't have it. because in its current rate as the president of the united states has acknowledged, it's unsustainable. so we have two options here. we can continue with the status quo. we can quibble over how much to cut from our discretionary spending, that which we have control of, and continue ignoring the entitlement programs. or we can make a commitment and have the political will to fulfill that commitment by saving those programs through some sound restructuring. this does not mean that current recipients of medicare are going to be knee capped or have their benefits dropped. this does not mean even those nearing retirement are going to face that prospect. what it does means is if we don't put reforms, structural reforms in now to address future problems, we're going to lose the whole program. the greatest threat to medicare is doing nothing. if we do nothing, not only will medicare collapse, but so will our fiscal house.
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mr. president, a former president, another democrat, bill clinton, said -- and it's in the papers today -- he's urging his fellow democrats to -- quote -- "don't tippy-toe around on medicare." i continue that quote. he said, "the program is part of a whole health-care system that has a toxic effect on inflation." he went ton say "we've got to deal with these things." mr. president, i'm here not to criticize the democrats for putting us in this situation. i think we all bear some responsibility. the country does not want us to point fingers at each other. they don't want us to use this as a political advantage for the 2012 election they want us to do the right thing that they all know needs to be done. and i'll believe they'll reward us and recognize us for at least having the courage to step forward and address a real
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problem that everyone now i think understands and recognizes. so whether it's the paul ryan plan coming out of the house, whether it's a democrat budget plan coming out of the budget committee, whether it's some other plan coming out between the negotiations that are going on, or should go on, between the executive branch and congressional branch, this is something that we have got to do. we have just simply got to put aside our partisanship and concerns and worry about the 2012 elections and simply say we have to rise above politics as we did in 1983 when we restructured social security. a republican president, a democrat house leader, members of the democrat committee, congressional committee and senate committee, the political people stood together and said this rises above the election. it's too important not to address. to tran send it.
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can we take this one issue and say let's take this out of politics. let's stand together as republicans and democrats along with the president and do what's right for the country. the bottom line is no matter what we do here, if the president doesn't support us in this effort, it's not going to succeed. he has the veto pen and he has the ability to lead or not lead. i guess as i have before, i'm calling on the president to basically say this important issue can only be successful, mr. president, if you will engage and you will lead us and you will be part of this effort to solve a problem that affects every living american and those to be born and participate in this country. it dramatically affects our future much sooner, i believe, than any of us think. it affects our economy and ability to grow. we can't cut our way out of all of this. we can help restructure. we can help make cuts where
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necessary. and we can help our economy to grow by putting police in place that will stimulate the economy. that combination put together in a package is what we need to support. i'm just hoping we will put politics aside for this one issue, which is so important to the future of our country. mr. president, i probably said more than i need to say at this particular point in time. i appreciate the opportunity. i again thank the senator from north dakota tporg agreeing to let me go forward here. as chairman of the budget committee, i am know he's fully could cognizant of these issues and is working to try to address them. i hope we can work together to deal with this very, very urgent problem. i yield the floor. mr. conrad: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. conrad: i want to thank the senator from indiana for his thoughtful presentation. there's parts of it with which i
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stkpwraerbgs but the overall -- disagree, but the overall theme of what he said is, i think, true. our country is in deep trouble. at the end of this year we will have a debt that is 100% of the gross domestic product of the united states. we've had two leading economists in this country tell us, after a review of 200 years of economic history, that when a country reaches a gross defendant more than 90 -- gross debt of more than 90% of its gross domestic product its future economic prospects are diminished. and that's where we are. so i agree with the senator from indiana that this is the time. we must find a way to come together to craft a plan that deals with this debt threat. five years ago the ranking republican on the budget committee, senator gregg, and i came up with this concept of a commission. that commission was in place
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last year; came up with a recommendation to reduce the debt $4 trillion over the next ten years, and 11 of 18 commissioners supported it. senator gregg, the ranking republican on the budget committee, both supported it. we had five democrats, five republicans and 1 independent. we needed 14 of 18 for it to come to a vote in congress. mr. president, there were many parts of that plan i didn't like. i would have gone further than that plan. i proposed to the commission we have a $6 trillion plan of deficit reduction because that would have balanced -- we could balance the budget in ten years with that kind of plan. but it was a step in the right direction. it was a big step in the right direction. and so i supported it along with the other ten commissioners who did. mr. president, i just want to say to the senator from indiana, i respect the presentation that
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he just made because it in larger terms says what has to be said. we all have to be truth tellers. however uncomfortable the truth is, we have to be truth tellers. i believe the truth is when the revenue is the lowest it has been in 60 years as a share of g.d.p. and spending is the highest it has been in 60 years as a share of g.d.p., that we've got to work both sides of the equation. we are going to have to cut spending. i believe we're going to have to raise revenue. none of it is very popular. if you ask the american people, they will say to you, well, yes, get the deficit and debt under control, but don't touch social security. don't touch medicare. don't touch defense. don't -- by the way, just those three are 80% of federal spending. if you add up all the mandatory programs, you add up defense, that's 80% of federal spending.
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and you ask the american people, and they say don't touch any of it. and the revenue side of the equation, they say don't touch that. you know what's left? 20% of federal spending. if you start asking them questions about the elements of that 20%, they reject every one except one: foreign aid. they say, yes, cut foreign aid. a majority supports that. the problem is that's 1% of the budget. here we are, we're borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. you can eliminate all foreign aid. it does not make a material difference. the other thing the american people support by a majority, the only other thing, is taxing the wealthy. let me just say i believe the wealthy are going to have to pay somewhat more. but that won't solve our problem, because to solve the problem, you'd have to have a top rate of 70% to 80% on corporations and individuals. what would that do to the competitive position of the united states? so, i believe we all are going
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to have to be truth tellers. before we're done, we're going to have to find a way to come together. i was part of that effort on the commission. i was part of that effort in this group of six that's now a group of five because one of our members left. and there's this other effort underway that's a leadership effort with the white house involved. at the end of the day, the white house has to be at the table. but, senator gregg and i had recommended was that the treasury of the secretary be the head of the commission and the head of o.m.b. be one of the 18 members, but that wasn't adopted by the congress. we got 53 votes in the united states senate, but 53 votes doesn't pass things around here. you've got to have 60. you've got to have a supermajority. so here we are. let me just say, again, i thank the senator for his thoughtful presentation because that's what it's going to take.
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we're going to have to -- we're going to have to be brave. we're going to have to show some political courage here to do what's right for our country. and i appreciate the senator from indiana's that you feel remarks. let -- indiana's thoughtful remarks. let me make a brief review in response to what i've heard this morning because i've heard some things that i strenuously disagree with, that i think require a response. the thing we all agree on is we're borrowing 40 cents of every dollar. that cannot be continued. as i indicated earlier, this is a 60-year look at the spending and revenue of the united states. you can send the spending line is the red line. the green line is the revenue line. and the spending of the united states is a share of national in, is the highest it's been in 60 years. the revenue is the lowest it has been in 60 years. some of our colleagues say it's
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just a spending problem. i just factually reject that. i mean, the facts show it's not just a spending problem, although clearly we do have a spending problem. and spending is the highest it's been in 60 years; clearly you've got a spending problem. but as this chart reveals, revenue is the lowest it's been in 60 years. so clearly we've got a revenue problem as well. yesterday we voted on the package that came from the house of representatives. the package that came from the house budget committee was passed by the house of representatives, and here again this morning, even though that package was defeated overwhelmingly and on a bipartisan basis here yesterday, we had colleagues come and talk about p with what a great packt was. i don't think it was a great package.
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i think it was a terrible package. and here's why: and now i'm quoting former economic advisor to president reagan. president reagan's -- one of his economic advisors, mr. bartlett said about the house republican plan the following. "distributionly, the ryan plan is a monstrosity. the rich would receive huge tax cuts while the social safety net would be shredded to pay for them. even as an opening bid to begin budget negotiations with the democrats, the ryan plan cannot be taken seriously. it is less of a wish list than a fairy tale utterly disconnected from the real world, backed up by make-believe numbers and unreasonable assumptions. ryan's plan isn't even an act of courage; it's just pandering to the tea party.
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a real act of courage would have been for him to admit, as all serious budget analysts know, that revenues will have to rise we will above 19% of g.d.p. to stablize the debt." now, this is a former economic advisor to president reagan commenting on the house republican plan that we rejected on a bipartisan basis here yesterday. why does he say it's a monstrosity? well, he says it because even though revenue is the lowest it's been in 60 years, the first thing the republican budget from the house did was cut taxes further, an overwhelming tax cut for the wealthiest among us, after they've already received very significant tax reductions over the last decade. in fact, the plan that came from the republican plan from the house would have given those who
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have over $1 million of income a year, on average, a tax cut of over $192,000. for those who are as fortunate as to earn over $10 million a year, the plan that they sent over here would have given them, on average, a tax cut of $ $1,450,000. now, that's a fact. that's just a fact. does that make any sense at all when the revenue of this country is the lowest it's been in 60 year, the first thing you do is dig the hole deeper, give another $1 trillion of tax cuts going to the wealthiest among us? it makes no sense. it didn't end there, because the plan from the house also would permit the scam that is
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occurring to continue, and the scam i'm referring to relates to this little building down in the cayman islands, u ugland house. this claims to be the home of 18,857 companies. really? 18,000 companies are doing business out of this little five-story building down in the cayman islands? please. 18,000 companies aren't doing business out of this little five-story building down in the cayman islands. the only business that's going on is monkey business, and the monkey business that's going on is avoiding the taxes that they legitimately owe to the united states. you wonder why big companies making billions of dollars a year can announce they paid no taxes to the united states, none? it's because they're operating out of ugland house down in the
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cayman islands where there are no taxes and they show the profits of their companies down in the cayman islands. when i was tax commissioner, i found a company that r reported all of their earnings down in the cayman islands. they did business all across the country but amazingly enough, none of those companies showed any profits in the united states. they showed all their profits in the cayman islands, where happily there are no taxes. now, look ... the republican budget plan said, that's fine, keep doing it. that's not fine. it's not fair. we know from our own permanent committee on investigations here in the united states senate that these offshore tax havens are prfting. here's the -- are proliferating. here's a quote from the senate
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homeland security and government affairs permanent subcommittee on investigations. "experts have estimated that the total loss to the treasury from offshore tax evasion alone approaches $100 billion per year, including $40 billion to $70 billion from individuals and another $30 billion from corporations engaging in offshore tax evasion. abusive tax shelters add tens of billions of dollars more." mr. president, the republican plan from the house says, no problem, keep on doing it. in fact, we'll go you one more. we'll give you more tax cuts. -- for the wealthiest among us. i tell you, that -- that plan cannot stand scrutiny, and at the same time it says, you know, because we've got the lowest revenue in 60 years and because
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we're going to give even more tax preferences, more tax credits, more tax schemes to the wealthiest among us, we're not going to be able to keep medicare. i've heard colleagues say that these draconian cuts to medicare that are in the house plan are a way of saving medicare. you don't save medicare by destroying it. that's what the house plan does, make no mistake. it ends medicare as we know it. why do i say that? well, let me just show you what it does. right now under traditional medicare the individual pays 25% of their health care costs. that's how it works today. you pay about 25%. a senior citizen eligible for medicare pays about 25% of their
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costs. under the house republican budget plan that they passed and sent to the senate that we defeated yesterday by a bipartisan vote, they would increase what the individual pays from 25% to 68%, and they claim they're saving medicare. doesn't look to me like they're saving it. looks to me like they're colleague undoing it. and when you add it all up, what is most striking is that the house republican plan, although it gives massive tax cuts to the wealthiest among us -- another $1 trillion of tax cuts -- even though it shreds medicare and completely undermines medicaid, would mean another 34 million people don't have health care coverage in this country, because they completely undo the
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coverage for health care passed last year. so 34 million people are not going to have health care, as a result of their plan. even with all of that and the other dramatic cuts -- by the way, they cut support for energy programs to reduce our dependence on foreign energy; they cut that 57%; they cut education almost 20%; even after all that you'd think, well, at least they got the debt under control. no. amazingly enough, their plan, according to their own numbers, would add $8 trillion to the debt. wow! they shred medicare, they cut education dramatically, they cut almost 60% of the funding for
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energy to reduce or dependence on foreign energy, they cut that 57%, and they still add $8 trillion to the debt. wow, that's a good plan? i don't think so. i don't think that's a plan that can stand much scrutiny. mr. president, we also heard a lot of complaints from the other side that we've not gone to markup on the budget. -- here in the senate. that's true. and the reason we haven't is because something is going on in this town that's very unusual. there are high-level bipartisan talks going on with the white house on what the budget plan should be to deal with our debt. this is something i've encouraged for years. i've called repeatedly this year for a summit to deal with our
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debt, to get a plan in place, to cut spending and, yes, to raise revenue, hopefully without raising taxes, but by eliminating tax expenditures, tax loopholes, this kind of scam we've just talked about -- off offshore tax havens and abusive tax practices mr. president, that bipartisan leadership effort that is under way deserves a chance to succeed. if they reach a conclusion, they will need a budget resolution. they will need us to have a markup in the budget committee to implement their plan. some don't want to wait. they don't want a bipartisan agreement. but we simply must have a bipartisan agreement, if there is to be any chance for success. the house is controlled by the
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republicans. the senate is controlled by the democrats. there is a democrat in the white house. the only possible way that a plan is actually passed into law and implemented is if we work together. i did it for all of last year on the president's commission. i've done it four months of this year with three democrats, three republicans, spending hundreds of hours trying to come up with a bipartisan plan here to implement the recommendations of the commission. so i don't take a back seat to anybody with respect to being serious about trying to get a plan to get our debt under control because it's a fundamental threat to the economic security of the united states. but here's what the republican leader himself said about the effort that is under way, the bipartisan leadership effort: "the discussions that can lead to a result between now and august are the talks being led
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by vice president biden ... that's a process that could lead to a result, a measurable result, in the short term. and in that meet something the only who can sign a bill into law; in fact, the only american out of 307 million of us who can sign a bill into law. he is in those discussions. that will lead to a result." that is why we have not gone to a budget markup, because we have the patience to wait for the outcome of these bipartisan leadership talks. the top republicans are represented in the senate, the top republicans in the house are represented, as are the democrats in the senate and the house, led by the white house. mr. president, the republican leader said this as well about the talks. "we now have the most important democrat in america at the table. that's important. he is the only one of the 307 million of us who can actually sign a bill into law.
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and i think that's a step in the right direction. and the the biden group is the group that can actually reach a decision on a bipartisan basis. and if it reaches a decision, obviously, we'll be recommending it to our members." mr. president, that is the poi point. why would we go to a partisan budget markup and refuse to wait for the leadership negotiation that is under way to succeed? when we know if they do succeed, in all likelihood, they will need us to do a budget markup to implement what they decide? mr. president, i have the patience. i've spent five years working first with senator grerks the ranking republican on the budget
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committee, then with all 18 members of the fiscal commission, now with the group of six, three democrats and three republicans, trying to put together a plan to implement what the commission recommended, to get our debt under control. i have the patience to wait a few more weeks to see if the combined leadership of this country -- republican and democrat, working with the president of the united states -- can come up with a plan to get our debt under control. we should all have that patience. we should all hope that they succeed. but we're not just going to be sitting and waiting. while we're hoping for a successful outcome, this senator will continue to work with republicans and democrats to come up with a bipartisan plan to meet our debt threat.
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all of us have that obligation. all of us have that responsibility. i thank the chair and yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. [inaudible] the senator will be notified. mr. grassley: mr. president, i've been a longtime supporter of free trade. i believe it is always a good thing when american businesses and manufacturers and farmers have more market access for their products. i've also been a longtime supporter of specific free trade agreements that are waiting to be enacted on in the congress, the south korea, colombia and panama agreements. we've had too many years of talking about being longtime supporter of free trade agreements, yet we've not had an opportunity to back up our talk with votes because we can't vote
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until the president presents them to the congress. the time to present these free trade agreements is long overd overdue. the administration needs to stop moving the goal posts every time we're about to kick the ball through. take the panama agreement as an example. the united states and panama reached an agreement in principle december 2006. however, congressional democrats expressed concern regarding certain labor issues that existed in panama at the time and the bush administration negotiated a deal with the congressional democrats who had newly taken over the congress on an announcement -- on an agreement that was announced may 10, 2007. as a result, then, president bush addressed the labor issues in the trade agreement that the united states signed with panama in late june 2007.
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now, you would think if there was a big news conference on may the 10th, 2007, that there's been an agreement reached, wouldn't you think that these agreements would be passed by now? but not so four years later. despite the fact that the demands made by congressional democrats were incorporated in the signed trade deal, congressional democrats would not allow a vote on the agreement. instead, they moved the goal posts by demanding more changes be made by the panamanian government. after president obama took office, the trade issue was sidelined. along with others, i made a case that trade agreement agreementso be a part of america's economic recovery effort. i got an opportunity to make the case directly to the president december 2009. then in january 2010, the president said in a message to congress that he wanted to double exports within the next five years. that's a very worthy goal. well, it's pretty hard to double exports and help employers
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create jobs while ignoring these trade agreements. supporters of free trade and the jobs supported by trade average about 15% above the national average, so we're talking about good jobs so there's reasons to keep the pressure on. finally, after many months of waiting, the trade ambassador went back to work to get the panamanian government to agree to meet the additional demands set out by congressional democrats in the obama administration. the ambassador also set out to gain further commitment from south korea and colombia. now, the panamanian government has addressed the additional demands by making the necessary amendments to their laws. the additional concerns that the administration had with the south korea and colombian deals were addressed as well. earlier this may, ambassador kirk indicated that all three trade agreements were ready for congress to consider. but the obama administration
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decided to move the goal post once again. instead of moving these agreements forward for swift approval to help the economy move along and the swift approval which i believe they will receive when they get a vote, the administration now has another requirement: approval of the trade adjustment assistance. while u.s. manufacturers and businesses and farmers risk losing more and more market share in these countries, democrats keep up -- keep coming up with reasons for holding up these trade agreements, moving the goal posts. there is simply no reason to keep on moving the goal post. the administration has said these three trade agreements are ready. one of the best things that we can do right now for u.s. businesses, farmers and workers is to implement these trade agreements which will give a much-needed boost to our economy. i'm not suggesting that we do nothing on trade adjustment assistance because i support that 40-year-old program, but
quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote quote
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reaching an agreement on that program should not be used as another excuse for moving the goal post. all three of the pending trade agreements need to be sent to congress without further delay. i yield back the balance of my time and yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president, the united states senate is preparing to passion another four-year extension of the u.s.a. patriot act. i served on the intelligence committee for over a decade and i want to deliver a warning this afternoon. when the american people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the pa patt act, they are going to be stunned and they are going to be angry. they're going to ask senators, "did you know what this law actually permits?" "why didn't you know before you voted on it?" the fact is, anyone can read the plain text of the patriot act,
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and yet many members of congress have no idea how the law is being secretly interpreted by the executive branch because that interpretation is classified. it's almost as if there were two patriot acts, and many members of congress have not read the one that matters. our constituents, of course, are totally in the dark. members of the public have no access to the secret legal interpretations so they have no idea what their government believes the law actually means. now, i'm going to bring up several historical examples to try to demonstrate what this has meant over the years. before i begin, i want to be clear that i'm not claiming that any of the specific activities i discuss today are happening now. i'm bringing them up because i believe they are a reminder of how the american people react
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when they learn about domestic surveillance activities that are not consistent with what they believe the law allows. when americans learn about intelligence activities that are consistent with their understanding of the law, they look to the news media, they follow these activities with interest and often admiration. but when people learn about intelligence activities that are outside the lines of what is generally thought to be the law, the reaction can get negative and get negative in a hurry. so here's my first example. the c.i.a. was established by the national security act of 1947 and the law stated that the agency was -- quote -- "forbidden to have law enforcement powers or internal security functions." members of the congress is legal experts interpreted that language as a clear prohibition against any internal security function under any circumstanc
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circumstances. a group of c.i.a. officials have a different interpretation. they decided that the 1947 law contained legal gray areas that allowed the c.i.a. to monitor american citizens for possible contact with foreign agents. they believed this meant that they could secretly tap americans' phones, open their mail and plint listening devices in their -- and plant listening devices in their homes, among other things. this secret legal interpretation led the c.i.a. to maintain intelligence files on more than 10,000 american citizens, including reporters, members of congress, and a host of antiwar activists. this small group of c.i.a. officials kept the program and their -- quote -- "gray area justification" of the program a secret from the american people and most of the government because, they argued, revealing it would violate the agency's responsibility to protect intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure.
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did the program stay a secret? mr. president, it didn't, and on december 22, 1974, investigative reporter seymore her hirsch detd the program on the front of the "new york times." the revelations and the huge public uproar that ensued led to the form a of the church committee. that committee spent nearly two years investigating questionable and illegal activity at the c.i.a. the church committee published 14 reports detailing various intelligence abuses which, in addition to illegal domestic surveillance, included programs designed to assassinate foreign leaders. the investigation led to executive orders reining in the authority of the c.i.a. and the congressional of the senate house anandhouse intelligence c.
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later, there was secretly approved a program named project sham rom. project shamrock authorized the arm forces security agency and its success, the n.s.a., to monitor telegraphs coming in and out of the united states. at the outset of the program, companies were told that government agents would only read -- quote -- "those telegrams related to foreign intelligence targets." but as the program grew, more telegrams were sent and received by americans and they were read. during the program's 30-year run, the n.s.a. analysts sometimes reviewed as many as 150,000 telegrams a month. while the ford administration said that it made all pertinent information about project shamrock available to the senate intelligence committee and the justice department, it kept the program secret from the public. they argued that public disclosure was both unjustified and dangerous to national security and it avoided
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congress' questions regarding the legality of the program by stating that the telegrams present somewhat different legal questions from those posed by domestic bugging and wiretappi wiretapping. and that program didn't stay secret either. the newly-formed senate intelligence committee ultimately disclosed the project shamrock program on november 6, 1975, arguing that public disclosure was needed to build support -- build support -- for a law governing n.s.a. operations. that resulting public uproar led to a congressional investigati investigation, the n.s.a.'s termination of project shamrock and the passage of the foreign intelligence surveillance act of 1978, which attempted to subject domestic surveillance to a process of warrants and judicial review. years later, during the reagan
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administration, senior members of the national security council secretly sold arms to iran and used the funds to arm and train contra militants to topple the nicaraguan government. selling arms to iran violated the official u.s. arms embargo against iran and directly funding the contras was illegal under the bolen amendment. that was the one congress passed to limit u.s. government assistance to the contras. but the officials at the national security council were convinced they knew better. they were convinced that violating the embargo and illegally supporting the contra rebels would help free american hostages and help fight communism in nicaragua. instead of engaging in a public debate and trying to convince the congress and the public they were right, they secretly launched an arms program and hid it from the congress and the american people. now, who did that work out for them?
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now, "the new york times" published the story of these activities on november 25, 1986. the joint congressional committee was launched to investigate the iran-contra affair, which televised hearings for over a month. the house foreign affairs committee and the house and senate intelligence committees held their own hearings. the first presidential commission investigating the national security council was launched, multiple reports were published documenting the administration's illegal activities and the nicaraguan government sued the united states. dozens of court cases were filed on national security council officials including new national security advisors faced multiple indictments. now, finally, following the terrorist acts of september 11, 2001, a handful of government officials made the unilateral judgment that following u.s. surveillance law as it was
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commonly understood would slow down the government's ability to track suspected terrorists. instead of working with the congress, instead of coming to the congress and asking to revise or update the law, these officials secretly reinterpreted the law to justify a warrantless wiretapping program that they hid from virtually every member of the congress and the american people. it's not clear how long they thought they could hide a large, controversial national security program of this nature, but they kept it so secret that even when it yielded useful intelligence, classification restrictions sometimes prevented the information from being shared with officials who could have used it. i was a member of the senate intelligence committee, at this point a relatively new member, but the program and the legal interpretations that supported it were kept secret from me and
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virtually all of my colleagues. again, did that program stay secret? the answer is no, mr. president. after several years, "the new york times" published a story uncovering the program. the resulting public uproar led to a divisive congressional debate and a significant number of lawsuits. in my view, the disclosure also led to an erosion of public trust that made many private companies more reluctant to cooperate with government inquiries. as most of my colleagues will remember, congress and the executive branch spent years trying to sort out the details of that particular program and the secret legal interpretation, the secret legal interpretation that was used to justify it. in the process of doing so, congress also attempted to address some actual surveillance policy issues. i think almost all of my colleagues who were here for that debate would agree that those issues could have been
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resolved far more easily, far less contentiously if the bush administration had simply come to the congress in the first place and tried to work out a bipartisan solution to them rather than in effect trying to rewrite the law in secret. when laws are secretly preinterpretted this way, the results frequently fail to stand up to public scrutiny. it's not surprising, if you think about it, the american lawmaker process is often cumbersome here, often frustrating, and it's certainly contentious. but over the long run, this process is a pretty good way to ensure that our laws have the support of the american people since those that don't will actually get revised or repealed by elected lawmakers who follow the will of our constituents. on the other hand, when laws are secretly reinterpreted behind closed doors by a small number
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of government officials and there is no public scrutiny, no public debate, they are certainly more likely to end up with interpretations of the law that go well beyond the boundaries of what the american people are willing to accept. now, let me make clear i think it's entirely legitimate for government agencies to keep some information secret. in democratic society, of course, citizens rightly expect that government will not arbitrarily keep information from them and throughout our nation's history, americans have vigilantly guaranteed their right to know. but americans do acknowledge certain limited exceptions to the principle of openness. we know, for example, that tax officials have information about all of us from our tax returns, but the government doesn't have the right or the need to share this information openly. this is essentially an exception to protect personal privacy. another limited exception executives for the csh -- exists
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for the protection of national security. the u.s. government has an inparent responsibility to protect our people from threats. to do this effectively, it almost always requires some measures of secrecy. i don't expect general petraeus to publicly discuss the details of every troop movement in afghanistan any more than early americans expected george washington to publish his strategy for the battle of yorktown. by the same token, american citizens recognize that their government may sometimes rely on secret intelligence collection methods in order to ensure national security, in order to ensure the safety of the american people, and they recognize that these methods can often be more effective when specifics are kept secret. but while americans recognize that government agencies sometimes rely on secret sources and methods to collect intelligence information, americans also expect that these
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agencies will cooperate at all times within the boundaries of publicly understood law. now, i have served on the senate intelligence committee for a decade and i don't take a back seat to anybody when it comes to protecting what are essential sources and methods that are needed to keep the american people safe when intelligence is being gathered, but i don't believe the law should ever be kept secret. voters have a right and a need to know what the law says and what their government thinks the text of the law means, and that's essential so the american people can decide whether the law is appropriately written and they are in a position to ratify or reject the decisions their elected officials make on their behalf. when it comes to most government functions, the public can directly observe the government's actions and the typical citizen can decide for themselves whether they support
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or agree with the things that their government is doing. certainly, in my part of the world, american citizens can visit the national forests and decide whether they think the forests are appropriately managed. when they drive on the interstate, they can decide for themselves whether those highways have been properly laid out and adequately maintained. if they see someone punished, they can decide for themselves whether the sentence was appropriate, whether it was too harsh or too lenient. but americans generally can't decide for themselves whether intelligence agencies are operating within the law or not. that's why the u.s. intelligence community evolved over the past several decades. the congress set up a number of watchdog and oversight mechanisms to ensure that the intelligence agencies followed the law rather than violate it. that's why the senate and house each have a select intelligence committee. it's also why the congress created the foreign intelligence surveillance court, and it's why congress created a number of
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statutory inspectors general to act as independent watchdogs inside the intelligence agencies themselves. all of these oversight entities were created at least in part to ensure that intelligence agencies carry out all of their activities within the boundaries of publicly understood law. but the law itself must always be public. government officials must not be allowed to fall into the trap of secretly reinterpreting the law in a way that creates a gap between what the public believes the law says and what the government secretly claims it says. any time that happens, it seems to me there is going to be a violation of the public trust. furthermore, allowing a gap of this nature to develop is simply shortsighted. both history and logic should
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make it clear, and that's why i have brought these examples to the floor of the senate today. the secret interpretations of the law will not stay secret forever, and in fact often come to light pretty quickly. when the public eventually finds out that government agencies have been rewriting surveillance law in secret, the result, as i have demonstrated, is invariably a backlash and an erosion of public confidence in these government agencies. mr. president, i believe that this is a big and growing problem. now, our intelligence and national security agencies are staffed by many talented and dedicated men and women. the work they do is very important and for the most part they are extraordinarily professional. but when members of the public lose confidence in these agencies, it just doesn't
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undercut morale, it makes it harder for these agencies to do their jobs. if you asked the head of any intelligence agency, particularly an agency that is involved in domestic surveillance in any kind of way, he or she will tell you that public trust is the coin of the realm. it is a vital commodity and voluntary cooperation from law-abiding americans is just critical to the effectiveness of our intelligence agency. if members of the public lose confidence in these government agencies because they think government officials are rewriting surveillance law in secret, it is going to make those agencies less effective. and as a member of the intelligence committee, i don't want to see that happen. i want to wrap up now with just one last comment, and that is that as you look at these
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statutes and particularly the ones that i've outlined where you have so many hard-working lawyers and officials at these government agencies, i want to make it clear that i don't believe that these officials have a malicious intent. they are working hard to protect intelligence sources and methods, and for good reasons, but sometimes they can lose sight of the differences between the sources and methods which must be kept secret and the law itself which should not. sometimes they even go so far as to argue that keeping their interpretation of the law secret is actually necessary because it prevents our nation's adversaries from figuring out what our intelligence agencies are allowed to do. i can see how it might be tempting to latch onto this alice in wonderland logic, but if the u.s. government were to
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actually adopt it, then all of our surveillance laws would be kept secret because that would obviously be even more useful. when congress passed the foreign intelligence surveillance act in 1978, it would have been useful to keep that law secret from the k.g.b. so that soviet agents wouldn't know whether the f.b.i. was allowed to track them. but american laws shouldn't be public only when government officials think it's convenient. they ought to be public and public all the time. and the american people ought to be able to find out what their government thinks those laws mean. now, earlier this week, mr. president, i filed an amendment along with my colleague from the intelligence committee, senator mark udall, and that amendment would require the attorney general to publicly disclose the united states government official interpretation of the u.s.a. patriot act. the amendment specifically
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states that the attorney general should not proscribe any particular -- should not describe any particular intelligence collection programs or activities but that there should be a full description of the legal interpretation and analysis necessary to understand the government's official interpretation of the law. now, this morning, senator udall and i had the help of several colleagues, senator merkley, senator tom udall, we reached an agreement with the chair of the intelligence committee, senator feinstein. she is going to be holding hearings on this issue next month. senator udall and i as members of the committee will be in a position to go into those hearings and the subsequent deliberations, be in a position to try to amend the intelligence authorization, and if we don't get results inside the committee because of the agreement today with the distinguished chair of
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the intelligence committee, senator feinstein, the majority leader, senator reid, we will be in a position to come back to this floor and offer our original amendment this fall. now, we're going to keep fighting for openness and honesty. as of today, the government's official interpretation of the law is still secret, still secret, mr. president, and i believe that there is a growing gap as of this afternoon between what the public believes that law says and the secret interpretation of the justice department. so i plan to vote no this afternoon on this legislation because i said some time ago that a long-term reauthorization of this legislation did require significant reforms. i believe that when more members of congress and the american people come to understand how
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the patriot act has actually been interpreted in secret, i think the number of americans who support significant reform and the end of secret law, the end of law that is kept secret from them by design, i think we will see americans joining us in this cause to ensure that in the days ahead, as we protect our country from the dangerous threats that we face, we are also doing a better job of being sensitive to individual liberty, those philosophies, those critical principles are what this country is all about, and we are going to stay at it. senator udall and i and others until those changes are secured. mr. president, with that, i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. udall: thank you, mr. president. i rise today in conjunction with my colleague from oregon to discuss what's before us here on the floor, which is the extension of the patriot act. and i r -- and i rise as well to express my opposition to the extension of the three most controversial provisions of the patriot act which are before us here today. the process by which we've considered these provisions has been rushed, and i believe we've done a disservice to the american people by not having a fuller and more open debate about these provisions. i think along with senator wyden, i want to acknowledge the difficult position that the leader of the senate has been in, senator reid, and i want to thank him for trying to find an agreement to vote on more amendments. we were very close to reaching that agreement. but even in that context, the debate we've had on this bill is insufficient.
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if you look at what we're about to approve, it's a one-page bill which just changes the dates in the existing patriot act. this is a lost opportunity, mr. president. as a member of the intelligence committee, i can tell you that what most people, including many members of congress, believe is that the patriot act allows the government to do what it allows -- what it allows the government to do and what government officials privately believe the patriot act allows them to do, those are two different things. senator wyden has been making that case, and i want to make it as well. and i can't support the extension of the provisions we're considering today without amendments to ensure that there's a check on executive branch authority. and i don't believe that the coloradoans who sent me here to represent them would accept this extension either. mr. president, americans would be alarmed if they knew how this law is being carried out. i appreciate the intelligence
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committee chairwoman, dianne feinstein, working with us to hold hearings in the committee to examine how the administration is interpreting the law. i believe that is a critical step forward. however, that addresses only the overcharging concern. i still have concerns about the individual provisions that we are considering today. we just voted to invoke cloture to cut off debate on the four-year extension of provisions that give the government wide-ranging authority to conduct wiretaps on groups and individuals or collect private citizens' records. and i voted "no" because the debate should not be over without a real chance to improve these authorities. i recently supported a three-month extension so the senate could take time to debate and amend the patriot act. we were promised that debate. but that opportunity is literally slipping through our hands. i'd thraoeubg stay here and continue -- i'd like to stay
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here and continue making the case to the american people that this bill could and should be improved. mr. president, while a number of patriot act provisions are permanent and remain in place to give our intelligence community important tools to fight terrorism, the three controversial provisions we are debating, commonly known as roving wiretap, lone wolf and business records are ripe for abuse and threaten americans' constitutional freedoms. i know we must balance the principles of liberty and security, and i firmly believe that terrorism is a serious threat to the united states, and we must be sharply focused on protecting the american people. in fact, with my seats on the senate armed services committee and the senate intelligence committee, much of my attention is centered on keeping americans safe both here and abroad. and i also recognize that despite osama bin laden's death, we still live in a world where
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terrorism is a serious threat to our country, our economy and to american lives. our government does need the appropriate surveillance and antiterrorism tools to achieve these important goals. however, we need to and we can strike a better balance between protecting our national security and the constitutional freedoms of our people. let me give you an example. this debate has failed to recognize that current surveillance programs need improved public oversight and accountability. i know that americans believe that we ought to only use patriot act powers to investigate terrorist or espionage-related targets. yet, section 215 of the patriot act, the so-called business records provision, currently allows records to be collected on hrou-abiding -- on law-abiding americans without any connections to terrorism or espionage. if we cannot limit investigations to terrorism or other nefarious activities,
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where do they end? the coloradoans are demanding that in addition to the review of the foreign intelligence surveillance corps, we place commonsense limits on government investigations and link data collection to terrorist or espionage-related activities. if did -- or should i say when congress passes this bill to extend the patriot act until 2015, it will mean that for four more years the federal government will have access to private information about americans who have no connection to terrorism without sufficient accountability and without real public awareness about how these powers are used. again, i want to underline, we all agree the intelligence community needs effective tools to combat terrorism, but we must provide these tools in a way that protects the constitutional freedoms of our people and lives up to the standard of transparency that democracy
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demands. and again i want to say that as a member of the intelligence committee, while i cannot say how this authority is being used, i believe it is ripe for potential abuse and must be improved to protect the constitutionally protected privacy rights of individual innocent american citizens. toward that goal, i've worked with my colleagues to come up with commonsense fixes that could receive bipartisan support. for example, senator wyden and i filed an amendment that would require the department of justice to disclose the official legal interpretations of the provisions of the patriot act. this would make sure that the federal government is only using these powers in ways the american people believe they are authorizing them to. and while i believe our intelligence practices should be kept secret, i do not believe the government's official interpretation of these laws should be kept secret. this is an important part of our
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oversight duties, and i look forward to working with chairwoman feinstein in the intelligence committee to ensure that this oversight occurs. i've also filed my own amendments to address some of the problems i see with the roving wiretap, loan wolf and business record provisions. for example, i joined senator wyden in filing an amendment designed to narrow the scope of the business records materials that can be collected under section 215 of the patriot act, aeupbd just highlighted -- and i just highlighted some of the problems with that provision. our amendment would still allow enforcement agencies to use the patriot act to obtain investigation records, but would also require those entities to demonstrate that the records are in some way connected to terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. today law enforcement currently can obtain any kind of records. in fact, the patriot act's only limitation states that such
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information has to be related to -- quote -- "any tangible thing." unquote. that's right, as long as these business records are related to any tangible thing, the u.s. government can require businesss to turn over information on their customers whether or not there is a link to terrorism or espionage. i've got to say i just don't think it's unreasonable to ask that our law enforcement agencies identify a terrorism or espionage investigation before collecting the private information of law-abiding american citizens. these amendments, mr. president, represent but a few of the reform ideas that we could have debated this week. but without further debate on these issues, this or any other administration whr-rbgs intentionally or unintentionally can abuse the patriot act. and because of the need to keep classified material classified, congress cannot publicly fulfill our oversight responsibilities on behalf of the american people. so, mr. president, as i started
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out my remarks, i plan to vote against the reauthorization of these three expiring provisions because we failed to implement any reforms that would sensibly restrain these overbroad provisions. in the nearly ten years since congress passed the patriot act, there's been very little opportunity to improve this law. and i for one am very disappointed that we are once again being rufpd into approving -- rushed into approving policies that threaten the privacy which under one definition is the freedom to be left alone of the american people. it's a fundamental element and principle of freedom. the bill is before us today and in my opinion doesn't live up to the balanced standards the framers of the constitution envisioned to protect liberty and security and i believe it seriously risks the constitutional freedoms of our people. and by passing this unamended reauthorization, we are ensuring
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that americans will live with the status quo for four more long years. i'm disappointed and i know that many of our constituents would be disappointed if they were able to understand the implications of our inaction on these troubling issues. mr. president, as i close, i just want to say there is a gravitational pull to secrecy i think we all have as human beings. it's hard to resist it. and the whole point of the checks and balances that our founders put in place was to ensure that power couldn't be consolidated and that power abused. again, whether intentionally or unintentionally. we'd all like to be king for a tkpaeu. we -- king for a day. we all have ideas about how to make the world a better place but we know the danger of giving that power to one person or group of people. ben franklin said it so well. i can't do justice to his remarks in the way that he stated them. but to paraphrase him, he said that a society that would trade
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essential liberty for short-term security deserves neither. and our job as senators to ensure that we actually enjoy both of those precious qualities: security and liberty. so, thank you, mr. president. this is an important vote today. this is an important undertaking. and i know we can, through the leadership of senator wyden and me, those who care deeply about this, ensure that the patriot act keeps faith with the principles. mr. president, i yield the floor and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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leader is recognized. mr. reid: i ask the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i appreciate everyone's patience, madam president. we're working toward the end, which we're not there yet. i ask unanimous consent that it be in order for senator paul to offer two amendments en bloc and no other amendments be in order. number 363, firearm records. number 365, suspicious activity reports. there will be 60 minutes of debate prior to vote in relation to the amendments with time equally divided between senators paul and the majority leader or their designees. that neither paul amendment be divisible. upon use or yielding back of the time, the majority leader or his designee be recognized for a motion to table. if there are not at least 60
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votes in opposition to the motion to table, the above amendments be withdrawn. further, upon disposition of the two paul amendments, amendment number 348 be withdrawn. all remaining time postcloture be yielded back, the senate vote to concur on the house amendment s. 990, with amendment number 337, that no points of order or motions be in order other than those listed in this agreement and applicable motions to waive. mr. leahy: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: madam president, reserving the right to object, i would ask consent that the agreement be modified to include the leahy-paul amendment, with the same time for debate and a vote under the usual procedures. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. reid: madam president, i propounded this amendment, and i
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would just comment to my friend, the chairman of the judiciary committee, this amendment he has suggested has bipartisan support. he's worked on this very hard. it's an amendment that we hope some time the content of that amendment can be fully brought before the american people because it is something that's bipartisan and timely. and i would hope that we can get consent to include his amendment. mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the minority leader. mr. mcconnell: i object to the leahy request. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. reid: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: is there any remaining objection to the request of the leader? mr. leahy: madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the senator does not have the floor. the leader has the floor. mr. reid: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll
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quorum call:
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call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i would -- madam president, i renew my request. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. leahy: madam president, reserving the right to object, i would first ask consent that an editorial in today's "washington post" in favor of my amendment be included in the record at this point. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: madam president, again further reserving the right to object, i find it extremely difficult that -- and
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i have great respect for senator paul, of course, the cosponsor of my amendment, but one more time we have a case where we could have two amendments from the republican side, and we have one that is cosponsored by both republicans and democrats on this side, we can't go forward with. we have two amendments that have not gone through any committee hearings. we have one on this side that's been voted by a bipartisan majority. republicans and democrats twice out of committee, twice on the floor, and that can't go forward. it is my inclination to object further. and i realize the difficult that
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would put my friend from nevada in, and so i will not object. but i do feel this really ruins the chances to make the patriot act one that could have had far, far greater bipartisan support, and we have lost a wonderful chance, but i understand that we have to do what the republicans want on this bill. and so i will withdraw my objection. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: madam president? madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: this editorial to which the chairman of the judiciary committee refers, one, two, three, four, very strong paragraphs indicating why his amendment is important and necessary. but in keeping with the kind of senator that we have, the senior senator from vermont, the paragraph, the final paragraph is also quite meaningful.
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it's meaningful because that's the kind of senator we have from vermont by the name of pat leahy it is -- at this late hour, this last paragraph is most important to ensure that the provisions do not lapse which would, could happen as a result of the dispute between senate majority leader harry reid and senator rand paul of kentucky over procedural issues. and here's the final sentence and why pat leahy is a friend of the united states senate and really is a legend in the senate. "if time runs out for consideration of the leahy amendment, mr. leahy should offer a stand-alone bill later to make reporting requirements the law." i appreciate very much senator leahy being his usual team player. mr. leahy: madam president, if the senator would yield for just a moment, he referred to that last line that if this is not brought up, it should be offered as a free-standing bill. i assure the leader it will be offered as a free-standing bill. and i hope because of the
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bipartisan support of it it could be brought up at some point. mr. reid: madam president, this is an extremely important plateau we've reached. it's been very difficult for everyone. but now this bill can go to the president of the united states if these amendments are defeated, which i hope they are. will be to the president tonight before the deadline of this bill; this bill will not lapse. even though the senator from kentucky, senator paul, and i have had some differences, what we've done on this legislation is at least, has helped us understand each other, which i appreciate very much. and i appreciate his being able -- his working with us on this. it's been most difficult for him and for me. the presiding officer: who yields time? mr. paul: madam president?
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the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: i'm pleased today to come to the floor of the senate to talk about the patriot act. i'm pleased that we have cracked open the door that we will shed some light on the patriot act. i wish the door were wider open, the debate broader and more significant, but we will talk a little bit about the constutionality today of the patriot act. i was a cosponsor of senator leahy's amendment, and i think it would have gone to many great steps forward to make sure that we have surveillance on what our government does; authorized audits and the attorney general to continue to watch over to make sure that government is not invading the rights of private citizens. and i do support that wholeheartedly. jefferson said that if we had a government of angels, we wouldn't have to care or be concerned about the power that we give to government.
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unfortunately, sometimes we don't have angels in charge of our government. sometimes we can even get a government in charge that would use the power of government in a malicious or malevolent way to, look at the banking records of people they disagree with politically, to look at the religious practices of people they disagree with. so it's very important that we are always vigilant, that we are eternally vigilant of the powers of government, that they not grow to such an extent that government could be looking into our private affairs for nefarious reasons. we have proposed two amendments that we will have votes on today. one of them concerns the second amendment. i think it's very important that we protect the rights of gun owners in our country not only for hunting, but for self-protection, and that the records of those in our country who own guns should be secret. i don't think the government,
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well-intentioned or not well-intentioned, should be sifting through millions of records of gun owners. why? there have been times even in our history when government has invaded your household to take things from you. in the 1930's, government came into your household and said give us your gold. gold was confiscated in this country in 1933. could there conceivably be a time when government comes into your house and says we want your guns? well, people say that's absurd. that would never happen. i hope that day never comes. i'm not accusing anybody of being in favor of that. but i am worried about a government that is sifting through millions of records without asking, are you a suspect; without asking are you in league with foreign terrorists; are you plotting violent overthrow of your government? by all means, if you are, let's look at your records. let's put you in jail.
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let's prosecute you. would this not sift through hundreds of millions of gun records to find out whether or not you own a gun or not. let's don't leave those data banks in the hands of government where someday those could be abused. what we're asking for are procedural protections. the constitution gave us those protections. the second amendment gives you the right to keep and bear arms. the fourth amendment is equally important. it gives you the right to be free of unreasonable search. it gives you the right to say that government must have probable cause. there must be at least some suspicion that you are committing a crime before they come into your house or before they go into your records, wherever your records are. the constitution doesn't say that you only have protection of records that are in your house. you should have protection of records that reside in other places. just because your visa record resides with a visa company
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doesn't make it any less private. if you look at a person's visa bill, you can find out all kinds of things about them. if you look at a person's visa bill, you can find out what doctors they go to, do they go to a psychiatrist? do they have mental stkpwhreupbs what type of medications do they take? if you look at my visa bill, you can tell what type of books i read, what types of magazines i read. one of the provisions of the patriot act is called the library provision. they can look at the books you check out in the library. people say well still a judge has to sign these warrants. but we change the standard. the standard of the fourth amendment was probable cause. they had to argue, or at least convince a judge that you were a suspect. they were doing something wrong. now the cause or the standard has been changed to relevance. so it could be that you went to a party with someone who was from palestine who gives money
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to some group in palestine that may well be a terrorist group or not. but the thing is because i went to a party with them, because i know that person, am i now somehow connected enough to be relevant? and they would say, well, your government would never do that. they would never go and investigate people. the problem is this is all secret. so i don't know if i've been investigated. my visa bill sometimes have been $5,000. sometimes we pay for them over the phone, which is a wire transfer. have i been investigated by my government? i don't know. it's secret. what i want are protections. i want to capture terrorists. sure, if terrorists are moving machine guns and weapons in our country, international terrorists, by all means let's go after them. but you know the worst people, the people we want to lock up forever, the people all of us universally agree, people who commit murder, people who commit rape, we want to lock them up and throw away the book, and i'm all with you. but we still have the
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protections of the fourth amendment. if someone is running around on the streets of washington tonight at 4:00 in the morning and we think they may have murdered someone, we will call a judge and we will get a warrant. just because we believe in procedural protections, just because we believe in the constitution doesn't mean that we don't want to capture terrorists. we just want to have some rules. i'll give you an analogy. right now he have a been to the airport. most of america has been to the airport at some point or time in the last year or two. millions of people fly every day. but we're taking this shotgun aprofess. we think everyone is a terrorist. so everyone is being patted dowfnlt everyone is being strip searched. we are putting our hands inside the pants of 6-year-old children. have we not gone so far, are we so afraid that we're willing to give up all of our liberty in exchange for security?
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franklin said if you give up your liberty, you'll have neither. if you give up your liberty in exchange for security, you may well wind up with neither. because we take this shotgun approach, we take this approach that everybody is a potential terrorist, i think we actually are doing less of a good job in capturing terrorists because if we spend our time going after those who are committing terrorism, maybe we'd spend less time on those who are living in this country -- children and otherwise, frequent business travelers who are not a threat to our country -- instead of wasting time on these people, we could spend more time on those who would attack us. i'll give you an example. the underwear bomber -- for goodness sake, his dad reported him. his dad called the u.s. embassy and said, my son is a potential throat your country. we did nothing. he was on a watch list. we still let him get on a plane. he'd been to nigeria, to yemen twice. for goodness sakes, why don't we
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take half of the people in the s.a. and have them look at the international flight manifest of those traveling from certain countries who could be attacking us. for goodness sakes, why don't we target who we're looking at. my other amendment concerns banking records. 8 million banking records have been looked at in our country, not by the government. they have empowered your bank to spy own. every time you go into your bank, your bank is cd to spy on you if you make a transaction more than $5,000. the bank is ened to report you. if the bank doesn't report you, they let a large fine and the tune of $100,000 or more. they could get five years in prison. they are overencouraged. the incentive is for the bank to report everyone. so once upon a time, these suspicious activity reports were maybe 10,000 in a year. they're now over a million of these suspicious activity
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reports. do i want to capture terrorists? yes. do i want to capture terrorists transferring large amounts of money? yes. when we're wasting time on 8 million transactions, the vast majority of these transactions being law-abiding u.s. citizens, we're not targeting the people who would attack us. let's do police work. if there are terrorist groups in the middle east and we know who they are, let's investigate them. if they have money in the u.s. or they're transferring it between banks, by all means let's investigate them. but let's have some constitutional protections. let's have some protections that say, you must ask a judge for a warrant. some have said, how would we get these people? how would we capture those who are transferring weapons? we would investigate. we have all kinds of tools and we've been using these tools. others have said, well, we've captured these people through the patriot act and we never could have gotten them.
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the problem with that is it's unbelievable. you can tell me that you've captured people through the patriot patriot, but you can't prove that you would have captured them had you not asked for a judge. we have a special court. it's called the fisa complete it's been around since the late-1970's, not one warrant was ever turned down before the patriot act. but they say we need more power, we need more power given to these agencies, and we don't need any constitutional restraint anymore. but my question is, the fourth amendment said you had to have a probable cause, you had to name the person and the place. well, how do we change and get rid of probable cause and change it to a standard of relevance -- how do we do that and amend the constitution without actually amending the constitution? these are important constitutional questions. but when the patriot ability came up, we were so frightened
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by 9/11, that it just flew through here. no senator read the patriot act t didn't go through the standard procedure. look at what's happening here. ten years later you'd think the fear and hysteria would have gotten to such a level that we could go through the committee process. senator leahy's bill went to committee, it was deliberated upon, it was discussed, it was debated, it was passed out with bipartisan support, it came to the floor with bipartisan support, but you know what it's not getting a vote now? because they've backed us up against a deadline. there have been people who are implied in print that if i hoaltd patriot act up and they attack us tonight, that i'm responsible for the attack. there are been people who have implied that if some terrorist gets a gun, that i'm somehow responsible. it's -- it's sort of the analogy of saying that because i believe that you should get a warrant
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before you go into a potential or alleged murderer's house that somehow i'm in favor of murder. i'm in favor 6 having constitutional protections. these arose out of hundreds of years of common law. they were codified in our constitution because we were worried. we were incredibly concerned about what the king had done. we were concerned about what a far distant parliament was dation without our approval. we were concerned about what james otis called "writs of assistance." writs of assistance were pieces of paper that are warrants that were written by soldiers. they were telling us we had to house the british soldiers in our house, and they were giving general warrants, which meant we're just going to search you willy-nilly. we're not going to name the person or plashings we're not going to name the crime you are accused of. if a government were comprised of angels, we wouldn't need the fourth amendment. what i argue for here now is
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protections that protect us all, should we get a despot, should we someday elect somebody who doesn't have respect for rights. we should obey rules and laws. is this an isolated episode that we're here talking about the pay patriot academand that there is -- the patriot act? it is a deadline, huer rirks hurry, we must act. we have had no sufficient debate on the war with libya. we are now encountered in a war in libya. we now have a war in which there's imn 0 no congressional debate and no congressional vote. but you know what they argue? they say it is just a little war. but you know what? it is a big principle. it is the principle that we as a country elect people. it is a principle that we are restrained by the constitution, that you are protected by the constitution, and if i ask the young men and women here today to go to war and say we're going to go to war, that there darn well should be debate in this
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body. we are abdicating those responsibilities. we are not debating the patriot act sufficiently. we are not having an open amendment process. quay, am i pleased it took me three days of sitting down here fiblghting, but i am going to get two amendment votes. i am very happy and pleased that we came together to do that. i wish we would do more. i wish senator lay heys bill were being voted here on the floomplet i wish there were a week's worth of debate. the thing is we come here to washington expecting these grand debates. ifer been here four months. but i expected that the important questions of the day would be debated back and forth. instead, what happens so often is the votes are counted and recounted and laboriously counted and when they know they can beat me, when they know they can beat somebody else, then they allow the vote to come to the floor. but some, like senator leahy's bill, i'm suspicious that it's not going to be voted on because we may not be able to beat it. or they may not be able to beat it. i support t so the question is,
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should we have some more debate in our country? we have important things pressing on us. i've been here for four months and i'm concerned about the future of our country because of the debt burden, because of this enormous debt we're accumulating. but are we debating fully? are we talking about ways we could come together, how republicans and democrats, right and left, could come together to figure out a crisis, this crisis of disebt? no, i think we're so afraid of debate. but particularly with the patriot act, the thing is with the patriot act is that it's so emotional, because anyone who stand up like myself and says we need have protections for our people, that we shouldn't sift through every gun owner in america through their records, looking and just trolling through records ... interestingly, we have looked at 28 million electronic records when the inspector general looked at this. 28 million electronic records. we've looked at 1,600,000 texts.
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if you said to me, they asked a judge and they thought they were terrorists, i don't have a problem. but do you want them trolling through your facebook? do you want them trolling through your e-mails? do you want a government that is unrestrained by law? this ultimately boils down to whether we believe in the rule of law. so often we give lip service to it on our side and the other side and says, well be in the constitution and the rule of law. when you need to protect the rule of laws, when it is most unpopular, when everybody tells you that you're unpatriotic or you're for terrorism because you believe in the constitution, that's when it's most prey shurks that's what it is that you need stand up and say "no," we can fight. we can preserve our freedoms. we are who we are bus of our freedoms and our individual liberty. if we give that up, we're no different than those we oppose. those who wish to destroy our country want to see us dissolve
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from within. we dissolve from within when we give up our liberties. we need to stand up and be proud of the fact that in our country it's none of your darn business what we're reading. it's none of your business where we go to the doctor or the movie or what our magazines r it's nobody's business here in washington what we're doing. if they think it is the business of law enforcement, get a warrant. prove to somebody -- at least have one step that says, that person is doing something suspicious. the thing is that these suspicious activity reports -- 8 million of them have been filed in the last eight years -- the government doesn't have ask about this. it is sort of like they have deputized the banks. the banks have become sort of like police agency. banks are expected to know what is in the bank secrecy afnlgt they are spoac expected to know
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thousands of pages of regulations. if you don't report everybody, if you don't report these transactions, we'll fine you, put new jail or we'll put you out of business. that is a problem. it is a real problem. that's what's come of this. and i think we need to have procedural protections. if at this point there is a request from the senator from i will toil yield for a a question or for a comment, i would be happy to, if it is about the patriot act. okay. the amendments that i will -- the amendments that i will be proposing will be about two thirntion and we will have votes on them. we've been given the time to debate, which i'm glad we fought for. we'll basically be given a virtually insurmountable huddle. this will be maybe the first time in recent history i remember seeing this, but they will move to table my motions.
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in order for me to disweet the tabling motions to reconsider i will have to get 60 votes. it is similar to the votes that we have when you have to overcome a cloture vote or you have to overcome a filibuster. but we really aren't having any vote where there is a possibility of me winning. there's really a foregone conclusion. the votes are voted in advance. i am proud of the fact that i vote for, though, and we got some debate on the floor and then maybe in bringing this fight that the country will consider and reconsider the patriot act. but we need to have more debate. senator leahy's bill needs to be fully debated, needs to come out. maybe when there's not a deadline, maybe it will come forward. maybe we can have some discussion. but i guess most of my message is that we shouldn't be fearful. we shouldn't be fearful of freedom, we shouldn't be fearful of individual liberty. and they're not mutually schuvment you don't have to give up your liberty to catch criminals. you can catch criminals and
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terrorists and protect your liberty at the same time. there is a balancing afnlgt what we did in our hysteria after 9/11 was we didn't do any kind of balancing act. we just said, come and guess it. here is our-- --come and get t here is our freedom. come and get it. we zoo care whether there is review in congress. we don't care whether there is to be an inspector general looking at this. one of my colleagues today reported, well, there's no evidence those 8 million banking investigations are bothering or doing anything to flnts innocent people. there is a reason for there being no evidence. they're secret. you're not told if your bank has been spying on you. if your bank has put in a suspicious activity report, you're not informed of that. so the bottom line is, just because there's no complaint doesn't mean there haven't been abuses. there is a something called national security letters. these are written by officers of the larks by f.b.i. agents.
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there's no review of judges. there have been 200,000 of these. there's been an explosion of those national security letters. and we don't know whether they are alaska abused because they're screvment in fact, here's how deep the secret goes. when the patriot act was originally passed, you weren't allowed to tell your lawyer. if the government came to you with an f.b.i. agent's request, you could not even tell your lawyer. this i think is very disturbing. they finally got around to changing that. but you know what? if i have an internet service, if i am a server and they come to me with a policeman's request and they say, give us your records, if i tell anyone other than my attorney, i can go to jail for five years. what we have in s. a veil of secrecy so even if the government is abusing the powers, we will never know. madam president, can you tell me how we're doing on our time, please. the presiding officer: the senator has eight minutes remaining.
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mr. paul: did the senator from illinois wish to interject? mr. durbin: i understand there is time on the other side as well? the presiding officer: 28 minutes on the majority -- on the other sides. mr. paul: would you like to interject out in or at a later time? mr. durbin: i would like to speak on the majority side. does the senator yield the floor? mr. paul: okay. i'll go ahead and finish up, then. as we go forward on these, i would hope that there would be some deliberation and that the vote, as it goes forward, people will think about that we need to balance our freedoms with our security. i think we all want security. nobody wants what happened on 9/11 to happen again. but i think we don't need to simplify the debate to such an extent that we simply say we have to give up our liberties. for example, i can't tell you how many times people have come up to me in washington, other elected officials, and they say, we could have gotten moussaoui,
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the 19th hijacker, if we would have had the patriot act. the triewt of the matter is we didn't capture moussaoui because we had poor police work. and ask yourself, did we fire anybody after 9/11? we gave people gold medals. we gave them medals of honor for their intelligent work after 9/11. so my knowledge, not one person was fired. do you think we were doing a good job before 9/11? we had the 19th hijacker in prison or in custody for a month before 9/11. we had his computer. when they look at moussaoui's computer four days after 9/11 or the day after 9/11, they connected all the dots to most of the hijackers and to people in pakistan. why didn't we look at his computer? was it because we didn't have the prerogative? they didn't ask. an f.b.i. agent in minnesota wrote 70 letters to his superiors saying ask for a warrant. his superiors didn't ask for a warrant. do you think we should have done
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something about that after 9/11? we gave everybody in the f.b.i. and the c.i.a. medals. we gave the leaders medals for meritorious service and no one blinked an eye. what did we do? we passed the patriot act and said, come and take our liberties, make us safe. we have to protect what we read, to protect what we view, to protect what -- where we go and who we associate. we shouldn't allow government to patrol willy-nilly through millions of records. you've heard of warrantless wiretaps. a lot of these things are unknown because they're so secret that nobody knows, even many of us don't even know the extent of these things. but i can tell you that there's a great deal of evidence that we are looking at millions of records and that millions of innocent u.s. citizens are having their records looked at. now, are we doing anything, are we imprisoning innocent folks? no, i don't think we're doing that. i think they're good people. i think the people i've met with
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the fib f f.b.i., the people i't in our government, they want to do the right things. but what i'm fearful of is there comes a time when you've given these powers up. you know, when you recognize, for example, the constitutional discussion over war, if you say, well, libya's just a small war, we don't care, and you say that congress has no say in this, what happens when we get a president who decides to send a million troops into war and we simple say -- simply say, who cares, we let the president do whatever he is because he's got unlimited powers. you know, we fought a war, we fought long and hard to restrict -- we wanted an executive that was bound by the chains of the constitution. we wanted a presidency, an executive branch that was bound by the checks and balances. that's what our constitution's about. it is about debate. debate is important. amendments are important. bringing forward something from committee that would have reformed the patriot act is
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incredibly important, to have those debates on the floor. and that's why there is a certain amount of disappointment to having arrived in washington and to see the -- the -- the fear of debate of the constitution and that we really need to be debating these things. we need to have full amendments. we need to -- can there be any excuse why the inspector general should not be reviewing other agencies of government to find out if your rights are being trampled upon? so i would ask, in conclusion, that as these amendments come forward, that people think about it, think about our constitutional protections, but don't go out and say that, you know, the senator from kentucky doesn't want to capture terrorists or that the senator from kentucky wants people to have guns and to attack us. because the thing is, is we can have reasonable philosophic debates about this but we need to be having an open debate process, we need to talk about the constitutional protections, the protections that protect us all, and we need to be aware of that.
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i tell people, you can't protect the second amendment if you don't believe in the fourth amendment. you can't protect the second amendment if you don't believe in the first amendment. it's all incredibly important and i hope as we go forward on this vote, and even though i will likely fail because of the way the rules are set occupy the vote, i hope as we go forward that at least somebody will begin to discuss this, somebody will begin to discuss where we should have some constitutional restraint. senator leahy will have a chance to bring his bill forward, that there will be a full and open debate, and i hope that we've cracked the door open, that i've been a small part of that. thank you, madam president. and i yield back my time. mr. durbin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois is recognized. mr. durbin: madam president, it's my understanding that we have a consent that will allow senator paul to offer two amendments and then we'll go to final passage on this reauthorization of the patriot act. the presiding officer: that's correct. mr. durbin: madam president, i will oppose the amendments offered by senator paul and then oppose the reauthorization of the patriot act and i'd like to
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explain in my remarks why. i voted for the patriot act in the year 2001. in fact, there was only one senator on the floor who no longer serves who voted against it. it was a moment of national crisis. we were told then by the bush administration they needed new authorities to make certain that america would be safe and never attacked again. and i want to salute senator patrick leahy as well as his counterparts on both sides of the aisle who really worked night and day to put together a bipartisan version of this patriot act and had the good sense to include in it a sunset. we knew that we were writing a law with high emotion over what had happened to our country. we wanted to make sure it was a good law but we made certain that it would be temporary in nature, for the most part, and we would return and take another look at it. i cannot vote for an extension, a long-term extension of the patriot act without additional protections included for the constitutional rights of our
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american citizenry. it's worth taking a moment to review history. the patriot act was passed ten years ago -- almost ten years ago -- while ground zero was still burning. congress responded and passed it with an overwhelming bipartisan vote. it was a unique moment in our history. but even then, we were concerned enough to put a sunset and to do our best to review it in future to determine whether it went too far when it came to our freedoms. i voted for it but i soon realized that it gave too much power to government without enough judicial and congressional oversight. so two years after the patriot act became law, i joined a bipartisan group of senators in introducing the safe act, legislation to reform the patriot act. the safe act was supported by advocates from left and right, from the aclu to the american conservative union. progressive democrats and very conservative republicans came together across the partisan divide understanding americans
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can be both safe and free. we wanted to retain the expanded powers of the patriot act but place some reasonable limit to protect constitutional rights. when he joined the senate in 2005, senator barack obama became a cosponsor of our safe act. here's what he said -- and i quote -- as a senator -- "we don't have to settle for a patriot act that sacrifices our liberties or our safety. we can have one that secures both." i agree with then-senator obama. in 2006, the first time congress reauthorized the patriot act, some reforms from the safe act were included in the bill and i supported it. however, many key protections from the safe act were not included, so there are still significant problems. the f.b.i. is still permitted to obtain a john doe roving wiretap that does not identify the person or the phone that will be wiretapped. in other words, the f.b.i. can obtain a wiretap without telling a court who they want to wiretap or where they want to wiretap. in garden variety criminal
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cases, the f.b.i. is still permitted to conduct sneak-and-peek searches of a home without notifying the homeowner about the search until a later time. we now know that the vast majority of sneak-and-peek searches take place in cases that don't involve terrorism in any way. a national security letter or n.s.l. is a form of administrative subpoena issued by the f.b.i. we often hear n.s.l.'s compared to grand jury subpoenas. but unlike a grand jury subpoe subpoena, a national security letter is issued without the approval of a grand jury or even a prosecutor. and unlike the grand jury subpoena, the recipient of an n.s.l. is subjected to a gag order at the f.b.i.'s discretion. the patriot act also greatly expanded the f.b.i.'s authority to issue n.s.l.'s. an n.s.l. now allows the f.b.i. to obtain sensitive personal information about innocent american citizens, including library records, medical recor records, gun records, and phone records, even when there's no
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connection whatsoever to a suspected terrorist or spy. the justice department's inspector general concluded that this standard -- quote -- "can be easily satisfied." this could lead government -- to government fishing expedition as that target innocent people. for years we've been told there's no reason to be concerned about this broad grant of power to the f.b.i. in 2003, then-attorney general ashcroft testified to our committee that librarians raising concerns about the patriot act were -- quote -- "hysterics" and that -- quote -- "the department of justice has neither the staffing, the time nor the inclination to monitor the reading habits of american americans." but we now know the f.b.i. has, in fact, issued national security letters for the library records of innocent people. for years, we were told the f.b.i. was not abusing this broad grant of power but in 2007, the justice department's own inspector general has concluded the f.b.i. was guilty of -- quote -- "widespread and serious misuse" of the national
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security letter authority and failed to report these abuses to congress and the white house. the inspector general reported that the number of national security letter requests has increased exponentially from about 8,500 the year before enactment of the patriot act, to an average of more than 47,000 per year and that even these numbers were significantly understated. madam president, we can be safe and free. i think it's important that the measure that passed the senate judiciary committee should have been on the floor. it included an amendment which i offered with senator leahy and other provisions which i think are an improvement under the -- over the current bill before us. i'll say one quick word about the amendment by senator paul. i don't believe it is in our nation's best interest to exempt gun records from terrorist investigation. for goodness sakes, when we are dealing with people, terrorists using guns, searching the records to make certain that we know the source of those guns
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and whether or not there are any other threats to this nation is a reasonable thing to do. these should not be so sacred and sacrosanct that we don't ask the hard questions when our nation's security is at risk. i would agree with him that we ought to make certain there is a connection between that request for gun record information and a suspected terrorist or spy. but to say that these records cannot be asked for under the patriot act i think goes too far and that's why i will oppose his amendment. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. chambliss: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia is recognized. mr. chambliss: madam president, i rise to speak in opposition to amendment number 365, senator paul's amendment concerning suspicious activity reports or what's referred to as sar's. this amendment would prevent the department of treasury from requiring any financial institution to submit a suspicious activity report unless law enforcement first requests the report. if this amendment should become law, it will effectively take away one of the government's main weapons in the battle
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against money laundering and other financial crimes. it will also negatively impact our efforts to detect and follow the flow of funds to and from international terrorists. it's important to remember that s.a.r.'s are essentially tips from third-party financial institutions concerning suspicious transactions. because law enforcement is not watching the denial transaction of -- the financial transaction of every american on a daily basis 24/7, they often have no idea that a person is even engaged in a financial crime until they receive a suspicious activity notification from a financial institution. in a sense, s.a.r.'s are not much different than the thaips law enforcement often -- tips that law enforcement often receives from anonymous sources. these tips or leads can often form the basis for initiating investigations that can be used to neutralize criminal or terrorist activities. the problem with this amendment is it would require the
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government to look into a crystal ball in order to figure out when they should request a s.a.r. with this logic, we should only allow law enforcement to act on an anonymous tip unless they ask for the tip to be reported fir first. if a law enforcement or intelligence official doesn't get a tip about suspicious activity, how in the world are they going to know when it has occurred in the first place? the answer here is pretty simple -- they will likely never know that it occurred until the criminal activity has occurred and maybe even it will go undetected. let's look, for example, about the 9/11 hijackers. there were a minimum of 12-13 of those individuals who came into and out of the united states over a period of time. money was transferred to and from those individuals over a period of time. under the requirement's prepatriot act, there was no
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suspicious activity detected, but after the enactment of the patriot act, there would be reason now for any financial institution to suspect the potential for suspicious activity from those transfers of moneys. that's exactly why we did what we did in the patriot act, and that's one of the reasons why we have not seen a subsequent direct attack on u.s. soil from individuals who have been in the united states and have received money through transfers or whatever it may be. and let's don't forget that section 215 business records cannot be obtained in an arbitrary manner. there has to be, first of all, a determination that there is some international connection between the individual whose account has been deemed suspicious by the financial institution, and also there has to be some follow-on procedure to determine that --
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that there is reason for the government to get a hold of the financial records of this individual. in my mind, this amendment would put law enforcement in an unacceptable and unreasonable position. at the same time, we're asking them to pursue swindlers and money launderers more aggressively. we need to preserve the requirement that financial institutions report suspicious activities. we need to follow up on these leads, not scwu from a criminal law enforcement perspective, but from a national security perspective as well. and let me just say that since 9/11, i have been involved with the intelligence committee. all of those years. we do extensive oversight on this particular provision in the patriot act as well as other provisions, and we have hearings on this from time to time, and we require the law enforcement officials to come in and talk to us about what they're doing. and to my knowledge, there has never been one complaint or
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abusive that's been shown from the use of this particular provision. so, madam chairman, this -- madam president, this particular provision is working exactly the way that we intended it to work, and it's a valuable tool for our law enforcement. let me speak also about amendment number 363 which is senator paul's amendment concerning firearms records. simply put, this amendment would make it more difficult for national security investigators to prevent an act of terrorism inside the united states. the amendment would prohibit the use of a fisa business records court order to obtain firearms records in the possession of a licensed firearms importer, manufacturer or dealer. instead, national security investigators could only obtain such records through a federal grand jury subpoena during the course of a criminal investigation or with a search warrant issued by a federal
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magistrate upon a showing of a reasonable cause to believe that a violation of federal firearms laws has occurred. that might not always be possible. for example, before major hassan began his deadly assault against innocent military personnel at fort hood, texas, in november of 2009, there was no evidence that he had violated any criminal or federal firearms laws. thus, the federal bureau of investigation f.b.i. could not have -- the federal bureau of investigation could not have relied on title 18 to obtain information about hassan's purchase of the firearms used in the attack. as we have since learned, however, there was likely enough intelligence information to open a preliminary investigation on hassan because of his contacts with a known al qaeda member in yemen and seek a section 215 order for information about his gun purchases. i don't understand why we would take this tool away from national security investigators,
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especially here again where there has been no indication of any abusive of this authority with respect to firearms or other sensitive records. congress has conducted extensive oversight of the patriot and fisa authorities and there have been no reports of any widespread abuse or misuse and no reports that the government has ever used these authorities to violate second amendment rights. moreover, the protections detailed in section 215 ensure that second amendment rights are fully respected in the use of this authority. unlike in criminal investigations where a federal grand jury may issue a subpoena for firearms records, any request for records under section 215 must first be approved by the foreign intelligence surveillance court. as with all other section 215 records, the court must find that such records are relevant to an authorized national
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security investigation. this means that the f.b.i. cannot use this authority in a domestic terrorism investigation, nor can the f.b.i. randomly decide to see whether an ordinary citizen or even a vocal advocate of the second amendment owns a firearm. there are two additional oversight safeguards that are built into the section 215 process. first, each request for sensitive records by the f.b.i. can only be approved by one of three high-level f.b.i. officials -- the director, the deputy director or the executive assistant director for national security. second, there are also specific reporting requirements that are designed to keep congress informed about the number of orders issued for these types of sensitive records. one of the big lessons we learned after the 9/11 terrorist attacks was that we needed to make sure that national security investigators had access to investigative tools similar to those that have long been
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available to law enforcement. section 215 of the patriot act addresses that need. it provides an alternative way to obtain business records, including firearms records in situations where there may be a national security threat, but not yet a criminal investigation or violation. i have been a long and strong supporter of the second amendment. there is nobody in this body that has a better voting record on the second amendment than i do. probably nobody here owns as many guns as i own. but i use them for legal and lawful purposes. and i work with the national rifle association and any citizen group to make sure that neither this law nor any federal law is misused to infringe on second amendment rights of any law-abiding citizen. but this particular amendment would harm legitimate national security investigations. madam president, i'd like to
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take one minute to read a letter that i have received from christmas -- from chris cox, the executive director of the national rifle association." dear senator chambliss, thank you for asking about the n.r.a.'s position on a motion to amendment 363 of the patriot act. the n.r.a. takes a back seat to no one when it comes to protecting gun owners' rights against government abuse. over the past three decades, we have fought successfully to block unnecessary and obtrusive compilation of firearms-related records by several federal agencies, and we'll continue to protect the privacy of our members and all american gun owners. while well intentioned, the language of this amendment as currently drafted raises potential problems for gun owners in that it encourages the government to use provisions in current law that allow access to firearms records without reasonable cause, warrant or judicial oversight of any kind.
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based on these concerns and the fact that n.r.a. does not ordinarily take positions on procedural votes, we have no position on a motion to table amendment number 363." so, madam president, for those reasons, i intend to vote against both these two amendments, and while i appreciate the intent and the emotion with which my friend, senator paul, comes to this floor to advocate, we need to make sure that we get these extensions in place immediately so that we have no gap in the coverage available to our intelligence community and that we continue to give them the tools they need to protect america and to protect americans. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: thank you. the senator from delaware is recognized. mr. coons: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to s. 1114, a short-term, one-month patriot sunset extension bill which is
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currently at the desk, that the bill be read three times and passed, that the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there an objection? objection is heard. mr. coons: madam president, i am disappointed that my unanimous consent request was not agreed to, and i'd like to explain my action here today in the comments -- and the comments i am about to give are an explanation of a vote i intend to take later today. as senator chambliss said just before me, the powers of the patriot act are too important for us to risk their expiration as this body considers whether or not to amend them or revise them, and i couldn't agree more, so i offered a one-month extension in order that this body might take the time that i think is so needed and so deserved to seriously debate and conduct real oversight over the patriot act. this is a significant piece of national security legislation that i believe is worthy of further consideration and
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debate. law enforcement agencies, state, federal and local, workday in and day out, as we know, to protect us from very real threats that go largely unknown by most americans, and i want law enforcement to have all the appropriate tools in their toolbox to accomplish this goal. unfortunately, there are also, in my view, legitimate concerns about the legislation on which we are about to vote, concerns that my colleagues and i, including yourself, madam president, on the judiciary committee reviewed and addressed in detail and in a bill ultimately passed s. 193 which forms the core of the leahy-paul amendment, of which i am a cosponsor. we put those modest, real but needed revisions to this act before this chamber. madam president, i'm disappointed we don't have consent to move forward in order to have time to debate these reforms to the patriot act. as americans, the choice between liberty and safety is not one or the other. we expect and demand both. balancing the two responsibly requires careful consideration to each. we must be cognizant of our
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nation's very real enemies intend to do us harm, just as they did on september 11. it was the dangers of the world that motivated this congress as we just heard in the previous speeches to enact the patriot act now nearly ten years ago in the wake of those attacks. a grave new threat called for bold new authorities. although i was not then in the senate, i likely, too, would have voted for its passage. but this body's passage of the patriot act did not amount to a permanent choice of security over liberty. because of the broad scope of the new authorities in the patriot act, the bipartisan drafters of the bill insisted upon placing key sunset provisions in the bill to ensure that congress periodically reviewed how they were being used and assessed whether they were still essential to our security. madam president, being cognizant of a number of other members who hope to speak on this topic today, i ask unanimous consent that the body of my comments be entered into the record in order that i might summarize and proceed to a conclusion. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered.
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mr. coons: if i might in summation simply say this: if we were today to pass a four-year extension without amendment, without revision, it will have been nine years in which congress does not act in any substantive way on the amendments. i join the chairman of the judiciary committee, senator leahy, in intending to vote no today, not because i believe the patriot act is fundamentally flawed, not because i believe the united states doesn't face real enemies, but because i think this congress has not taken seriously its very real oversight responsibilities, its need to strike that balance. the judiciary committee did that hard work, and for this congress to not amend this bill with a simple, balanced and reasonable amendments offered in the leahy-paul amendment, i believe i am compelled to strike the balance between security and liberty on the side of liberty today by saying that this body has failed to act and to appropriately conduct thorough oversight of this bill before we send it four years into the
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future. with that, madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan is recognized. mr. levin: how much time is left on the majority side? the presiding officer: it looks like five and a half minutes. mr. levin: i thank the presiding officer. madam president, i rise in opposition of the amendment of senator paul, amendment number 365. this amendment would effectively wipe out a critical tool that is used against terrorists, against drug traffickers, and i want to explain exactly what these suspicious activity reports are and why they are so essential to the f.b.i. and to other law enforcement people. first of all, who use it is? f.b.i., organized crime units, drug trafficking task forces, border security, secret service, state and local police, intelligence community all use these s.a.r.'s. secondly, what are they used for? there was a report from the 2009, the g.a.o. report in that year which said the following. how are s.a.r.'s used?
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they gave a number of examples. the f.b.i. include s.a.r. data in its investigative warehouse to identify financial patterns associated with money laundering, bank fraud and other be a or entitled honoring financial activities. secondly, organized crime drug enforcement task force fusion center combined s.a.r. data with other data, quote to produce comprehensive, integrated intelligence products and charts. third, the i.r.s. uses s.a.r.'s to identify -- quote -- "financial crimes, including individual and corporate tax frauds and terrorist activities." we received a letter just today from the attorney general of the united states strongly opposing this amendment of senator paul. and this is -- this is what the attorney general says. s.a.r.'s are used to alert intelligence and law enforcement personnel to issues that warrant further investigation and scrutiny. the purpose of the s.a.r. regime
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to require financial institutions to report on suspicious activities based on information -- and this is the key point -- that is solely within their position. prior to the filing of a s.a.r., the attorney general said our law enforcement and intelligence analysts often are not aware that a particular bank account or individual may be associated with criminal activity or may be engaged in activities that pose a threat to national security, such as the funding of terrorist activities. and then the attorney general goes on, "conditioning the filing of s.a.r.'s upon a request from law enforcement would undermine this purpose." by definition, he said, "s.a.r.'s are designed to alert authority to information not otherwise within his possession." the paul amendment 365 is very short. what it does is say you must have a request of an appropriate law enforcement agency for the
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report before there is a requirement to file a suspicious activity report. and as the attorney general points out in a letter that i'd ask unanimous consent, madam president, be inserted in the record at this point -- the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. levin: -- that would totally undermine the purpose of the s.a.r. requirement. madam president, finally, the attorney general points out the following -- how much time do i have remaining? the presiding officer: 2 minutes and 12 seconds. mr. levin: the attorney general points out that it is -- quote -- "important to note that s.a.r.'s themselves are confidential under law that is not available to the public and cannot be used as evidence. they contain information that if used by law enforcement personnel must be further investigated and proven before adverse action is taken. the reports are only made available to law enforcement, intelligence and appropriate supervisory agencies under applicable authorities and are subject to the protections of federal law. this amendment -- this amendment
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would throw out, throw out of the window a legitimate and useful law enforcement tool. it has worked effectively. three courts have said it is constitutional. i hope that the paul amendment is tabled, and i thank the presiding officer. the presiding officer: thank you. mr. reid: how much time sraeuplg? the presiding officer: 1 minute and 22 seconds. the time is controlled by the majority, and the senator from kentucky controls 2 minutes and 22 seconds. mr. paul: madam president, i'm happy to yield my time back. the presiding officer: thank you. the majority leader. mr. reid: i would yield back my time. i ask unanimous consent that the remaining votes in this sequence be ten minutes. i move to table the pending amendment and ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendments en bloc. the clerk: the senator from kentucky, mr. paul, proposes en
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bloc amendments number 363 and 365. mr. reid: i ask, madam president, to table number 363 and ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll. the majority leader. mr. reid: madam president, i also ask consent -- i'm not sure the chair heard me -- that this vote will be 15 minutes. the rest will be 10 minutes. is that right? the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? on this vote, the yeas are 85, the nays are 10. under the previous order, 60 votes not having been cast in opposition to t m


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